Toronto police settle G20 human rights case against paraplegic man

By Wendy Gillis, Staff Reporter,

Gabriel Jacobs, a panhandler who uses a motorized wheelchair, was rrested during the 2010 summit, then later released without chargeToronto police have settled a human rights claim filed by a paraplegic man arrested during the G20 summit, but the terms will not be made public due to a confidentiality clause.

Gabriel Jacobs, a panhandler paralyzed from the waist down, filed a claim with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario last year, after he was arrested during the 2010 summit and later released without charge.

According to the claim, Jacobs was “dragged” from his motorized wheelchair, thrown into the back of a police cruiser and left on the floor of a temporary G20 detention centre where he defecated on himself because guards refused to help him.

Tess Sheldon, Jacobs’ lawyer, told the Star the claim was settled Friday, but said the terms “remain confidential.”

“The matter has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of all parties,” said Sheldon, who handled the case pro bono with ARCH Disability Law Centre.

Jacobs, 48, sought $100,000 in compensation for humiliation and loss of dignity in his claim, filed against the arresting officer, the Toronto Police Services Board and Police Chief Bill Blair.

The claim also asked for mandatory human rights training for police and an order for the police board to develop policies to better accommodate the disabled in jails and temporary holding centres.

Sheldon said she could not disclose the amount awarded to Jacobs. While she confirmed the police force is undergoing policy changes regarding the treatment of disabled people, she could not confirm if this was as a direct result of Jacobs’ claim.

“Given the upcoming policy changes, we are optimistic that Mr. Jacobs’ experience will not be repeated for others,” she said.

Mark Pugash, director of corporate communications for the Toronto police, said he could not comment on the settlement because of its confidential nature.

When asked if the settlement could be seen as an admission of guilt by the police, Pugash said “settlements, by definition, do not involve any admission of any kind.”

Reached at his subsidized apartment near Dundas St. E. and Sherbourne St. Tuesday night, Jacobs said he was “content and satisfied” with the outcome.

“I just did the best that I could to help other handicapped individuals,” he said.

But Doug Johnson Hatlem, a downtown Toronto street pastor and advocate for Jacobs, called the settlement “hush money.”

“(Jacobs) never found out the names of the officers who did this so you have a certain amount of money being paid to buy impunity for officers who treated one of our most vulnerable like a ragdoll.”

With files from David Rider

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TRISH ROBICHAUD is an award-winning Life & Business Coach who lives with MS. She teaches women living with chronic illness or disability how to honour and accommodate their health as a foundation for life. Book a free OPTIMAL HEALTH or HEALTHY BUSINESS Strategy Session at or


  1. Goodness~ This is unbelievable! I guess maltreatment of people knows no bounds!

  2. Unbelievable story, but thanks for sharing.

  3. Sometimes incidents like this happened because of carelessness and doing things without thinking the possible outcome of their actions. Hope this will serve as a lesson to learn for officers who harshly treat individuals under arrest.

  4. Police brutality is a common issue nowadays. It is something that higher officials in the agency will look into it and remind their people to act accordingly when prompted of this kind of situation. They must act they way look dictates.

    • Nathan,
      Unfortunately I think you are right, police brutality is becoming more common. I think that stepping up as Gabriel Jacobs did will help motivate a change.

  5. Maltreatment of handicapped individuals is just one of the common problems in our society today. Good thing that Jacob was able to obtained compensation for humiliation and loss of his dignity. Thanks for the share!

  6. I think the fact that elder abuse is gaining more attention (thanks to our aging baby boomers), we’ll start to see more wrongs being righted, like in the story above.


  7. Jacobs is not the first person that has experienced such unfair treatment by the authority. There has been thousands of cases of human right violations that has been filed and recorded in the court. The worst part is that it is still happening until today. Innocent people are being put into jail and faced public humiliation. Jaconbs has done the right thing here! He needs to protect his rights under the law.

  8. Sometimes persons who are in higher position over use their power that leads to misconduct. This always happens in most countries in the world and victims are getting into numbers.

  9. Justice nowadays is hard to gain. I agree with what you said Linda. “Power can lead to misconduct.” Once you are in the position, you can’t avoid compromising.

    • Samantha,
      I see you are an attorney so you understand these types of situations, but I really believe we can always avoid compromising to the point of pain and humiliation.

  10. It is so sad to realize that people in the higher position tend to overuse their power for abusive humiliation to someone who is incapable. Even if the parties remained the story confidential, still it is very understandable that Jacob had undergone through insatiable situation under police power. This is to determine that police officers not only in Toronto, but in most states, are abusing their power over a citizen which is not good, absolutely wrong!

  11. We could not give final verdict against the police since we do not know what exactly happened. If you consider the other side of the coin, the police is tasked to patrol during the summit and sometimes you cannot trust protesters around. Nevertheless, the issue was settled and the claimant was satisfied.

    • Percy,
      Very nicely said, there are always two sides. No matter what the other side of the story is, it is only right that Gabriel be satisfied.a

  12. People with disability should receive special treatment and not maltreatment. The police officers knew it well. No matter what the situation must have been. Humiliation as he claimed and was proven happened intentionally especially if it is in public. A comment from a Motorcycle Accident Attorney.

  13. It is unlawful to know that their are police who maltreated handicapped in prison. Not because he or she has been accused of he will be treated such way. Police who have behaviour like this should be punished.

    • Andrey, As you can see from the others who’ve commented, you are not alone with your sentiments! I’m glad you took the time to comment!

  14. Well, it’s embarrassing to hear but nothing can be done because only teaching can not make you to follow these rules, you have to feel it for disabled people.

    • Jack,
      Yes, I do feel for the disabled! And I did before I was one of them! I thank you for taking the time to leave a comment!

  15. Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with
    the pictures on this blog loading? I’m trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Laverne~
      I am sorry the pictures aren’t showing up for you! I know that MSrelief has slow loading speed and Trish will work with me tomorrow to make it faster but it’s showing up in all four browsers: Firefox, Safari, Explorer and Chrome~
      Hopefully tomorrow it will show up faster!

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