Robert Mostaway of Montreal is going after a Toronto cop he alleges verbally assaulted him outside of a courtroom at College Park earlier this year.
Mostaway is a gay man, now living in Montreal. He says that the incident with the officer was so upsetting that it has changed his life.
According to Mostaway he was cornered by two detectives of the Toronto Police Service in the hallway who were verbally upsetting. The first officer said that he was 'gunning for' Mostaway's trial. While the officer was not pleasant he did not make any homophobic comments. The second officer however commented that he hated 'faggots like you.' That comment, along with a threat of being fingerprinted by two large officers who didn't like Mostaway have lead the man to make a formal complaint of gay bashing at 51 Division.
On March 5, 2012 Robert Mostaway was in court charged with criminal harassment-communications. The charges stemmed from excessive text messages to a former romantic partner.
Mostaway plead guilty to the charge on the advice of his lawyer and was sentenced to 2 years probation.
"My lawyer said that I should plead guilty as I wanted to return to Montreal. She told me that in five years I could get a pardon on the case," Mostaway said during a phone interview. When asked if he did do the crime Mostaway stressed that he did not.
The incident with the officer was so upsetting for Mostaway that he was unable to get back to his regular life for months. His doctor has told him that it would be best not to visit Toronto for a while and has prescribed medication for depression.
"I had a job waiting for me in Montreal but I was not able to go to work for two months. I just couldn't function and experienced nightmares about the incident," Mostaway said.
According to Mostaway gay bashing by the police is common place in parts of Toronto. He said that he's spoken to others in the community who have experienced being called offensive names but have not taken the matter to the police.
"I don't think that cops that work with the LGBT community should be able to get away with gay bashing," Mostaway said with passion. He has made an official complaint at 51 Division concerning the officer and the incident that took place. That complaint is now being investigated.
Director of Corporate Communications for Toronto Police Services Mark Pugash said during a phone interview that TPS has LGBT liaisons and trains their officers. The training involves members from the LGBT community.
"We hold our officers accountable for their actions," Pugash said, "When there is a complaint made it is thoroughly investigated and if the officer in question is found at fault they are held accountable."
Asked if using certain words such as faggot would be considered a wrong action Pugash said that they could. "Any word that would be offensive to people or an insult is not allowed by our officers."
While Mostaway's experience was upsetting it may not be that common place. Mychol Scully lives in the Village and is well known in the LGBT community. When asked if he had heard about any recent gay bashing by the Toronto Police he said "I have not. Most of the negative stories I hear about police behaviour are related to youth (my own kids and their friends)."
The Toronto Police has made an true effort to change old mindsets when it comes to the LGBT community as well as other cultural communities in the city. One way that the service has worked on this is by having a Community Police Liaison Committees (CPLC) at each of their Divisions.
This is not to say that all police in Toronto act accordingly. When an officer acts in a manner that is not correct they should be reported. Anyone who feels that they have been abused in anyway by a Toronto Police officer can report the incident to their Police Division. That incident will be investigated and the officer, if found to have been in the wrong, will be held accountable for their actions.