TORONTO, CANADA – A Toronto veterinarian says police conducting a raid on anti-G20 protesters stormed into his home early Saturday, confronted him at gunpoint and handcuffed him — only to release him when they realized he had not been involved in any protest activity.
Dr. John Booth said the raid occurred at around 4 a.m. Saturday at his family’s apartment in a three-storey house at 143 Westminster Ave. near Roncesvalles Avenue.
Booth, 30, lives with his wife, Dr. Hannah Booth, 31, and his six-month-old son in the top two floors of the house.
“I thought it was a bad dream. Basically I woke up, and there were four police officers in my room,” Booth told CBC News.
“It was one of the very few nights I forgot to lock the front door and, lo and behold, they gained access and did not ring the doorbell, did not knock.
“One of them has his gun drawn and [it] is pointed at me, which is obviously an extremely unsettling way to wake up.”
Booth said police questioned him and he gave them his identification. They said they had warrants to search his home and arrest him.
Booth also said the officers informed him he was going to be charged with conspiracy to commit mischief and then handcuffed him.
Police never produced the warrants they spoke of, Booth said. They also spoke to Hannah Booth and woke up the couple’s baby in the nursery, he added.
Booth declined to give the name of his son, saying he didn’t want to get him involved.
Raid on downstairs apartment
Police had apprehended a number of anti-G20 protesters who were staying in another apartment on the ground floor of the house. Booth said he was taken to the lawn outside the home and made to wait there with several other handcuffed males.
While the officers waited for a police vehicle to take some of those on the lawn to a police station, Booth pleaded his case with the officers.
He said both he and his wife, who is also a veterinarian, were professionals who had no involvement with any criminal activity and that officers had no right to arrest him.
“That seemed to hit home. They conferred with their superior and then they took me back and said, ‘We apologize,'” Booth said.
Booth said he believed police were looking for someone named Peter.
The G20 Integrated Security Unit confirmed later it had conducted legal raids on two homes in Toronto and had arrested four people, one of whom was a 24-year-old named Peter Hopperton.
It could not confirm the addresses of the accused, nor the time of the raids.
Jillian Van Acker of the ISU, which includes members of the RCMP, Toronto police, Peel Regional Police and the Canadian Forces, said she had no information about the incident involving Booth.
“They shouldn’t have ever been in my house if they’d done their due diligence to actually figure out who was on site,” Booth said.
Booth said in email after the interview that the officers he dealt with were Toronto police, “as far as I could tell.”
‘Abuse of power’
Booth said he’s concerned about what he says was an overreach of police power in the lead-up to the G20 summit.
“I was listening to CBC Radio yesterday and they’re talking about …all the money going towards security [for the G20 summit] and the ultimate irony is that this is taxpayer dollars going to ‘keep us safe,’ and me the innocent bystander gets caught up in the middle of his over-policing and [this] abuse of power that occurred as a result.”
The Booths have filed a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, a provincial police watchdog.
When asked if he and his wife will file a lawsuit, Booth said they aren’t interested in compensation.
“We would pursue that if it seems as though that’s the best means for accountability. Because that’s what we’re really after here — we just want them to ‘fess up’ and say, ‘Look, we screwed up royally and we’re sorry.'”
Booth works as a veterinarian at the Richview Animal Hospital in western Toronto. His wife, Hannah, is on maternity leave and recently took a position on the board of directors at the Toronto Humane Society.