Why I was arrested and spent a night in jail -- and why it could also happen to you

Posted By: John Downs · 10/28/2013 7:00:00 PM

My left cheek is against the cold sidewalk. My chin is burning after being scraped along the concrete. A knee is digging into my back. My right arm is pinned under my chest. With firm direction, the officer tells me to, "Stop resisting!" -- as if I have any choice regarding my limb’s position. I know exactly how to conduct myself, having witnessed it so many times before.

January 18, 2013, was a Friday. The girlfriend and I decided to reward ourselves after a long week with dinner out. Afterward, around midnight, we made our way to a friend’s condo at King and Bathurst. We stayed for nearly two hours, chatting and sipping drinks. Just after, 2 a.m., we said our goodbyes and headed out to catch the eastbound King streetcar home.  

As usual, traffic through the King Street club district was slow. As we rumbled past Brant Street, I noticed the lights of an ambulance, then a young man lying on the street with blood covering the pavement beside him.

Whenever I witness a scene like that – the sight of police-tape blocking off an intersection, cops with guns drawn or smoke billowing from the sky above me – the reporter part of my brain takes over. Usually, the excitement is short-lived and I find myself heading home soon after checking out the scene. But not knowing whether I could have called a fire or homicide into the newsroom will haunt me if don’t check things out.

So I rang the bell on the streetcar, told the girlfriend I'd see her at home soon and gave her a quick kiss goodbye.

As I waited for the streetcar to stop, I pulled my phone out of my pocket and switched it into camera mode. When the rear doors opened, I pounced onto the street and jogged a back to the scene, where by now the injured young man was being loaded into an ambulance.

I quickly snapped two photos of the blood on the ground. A Toronto fireman, apparently unhappy with my actions, approached me. I assured him I was not interfering with the scene and took a third photo. When he instructed me to get lost I mentioned that I work in media. He either didn't believe me, or didn't care. His response: “You want me to get the cops over here?” That sounded fine to me. After all, I'd just explain to the police who I was, show them my ID, and assure them I had no intention of hampering their investigation. But after agreeing to hash things out with the officers, my phone was swiped from my hand, landing on the sidewalk below.

As I reached down to pick it up, I heard the fire officer: “Police! Here! This guy!” My phone was just out of my grasp when I was grabbed by my shoulders and thrown face first on to the sidewalk. My left arm was held behind my back; my right armed was pinned under my chest. I tried to comply with the officer’s demands of, “Do not resist,” but his right knee was digging into the small of my back, making it impossible to free my wrist.

What happened next took place so quickly it’s difficult to recall in what order they transpired. I recall handcuffs – real handcuffs – tightly constricting my wrists. An officer dug through my pockets and pulled out all possible evidence. I remember being most concerned about my Metropass going missing, as we were barely midway through the month. I was escorted to a police car and carefully placed in the rear seat. I was okay. I wasn't worried. I knew I had not done anything wrong.

As the firefighters and cops gathered, I recognized one of them from my reporting days. I asked a nearby officer to bring the familiar face over and, to my surprise, he obliged. Moments later, the door to the car opened.

“I'm sorry,” I said. “I can't remember your name. I'm John Downs.”

“John! Jeff Zammit. What are you doing here?” A wave of relief washed over me. I had interviewed and scrummed Zammit on many occasions. I had never had a negative experience involving him and, in fact, had always looked forward to working with him when I got the chance.

As to his question?

“I don't know.” I told him I was taking pictures of the scene when everything went haywire. It was perhaps at this point that he asked whether I had been drinking. I told him I had just left a friend’s house where, yes, we had some drinks. He assured me he'd look into what was going on and return with an update. He joined the huddle of police and fire officers for a moment and then headed back in my direction. He looked at me and waved a slow uppercut through the air with his right hand.

“He says you took a swing at him,” he said, in reference to the firefighter.

That was the turning point. The fire officer was claiming I attempted to assault him. An accusation that I knew could get me thrown in the Don Jail. An accusation I knew to be completely fabricated. I was in disbelief.

“That's what he's saying?”

Zammit nodded. I assured him I would never have done such a thing. I could tell he didn't need much convincing.

Within a few minutes, I was on my way to 14 Division, with Zammit in the passenger seat. It had been a while since we had run into each other, so we caught up during the leisurely drive. I also made it clear to Zammit that this whole experience would make for great fodder on my radio show come Monday. I did not mean it as a threat. I was just giving him the heads-up.

The cruiser pulled into an underground lot and I was escorted out of the vehicle into the booking room. An officer announced I had been arrested for assault and brought to the station because I was intoxicated.

I surrendered my belongings and then was led into a hallway and given an opportunity to call my girlfriend. I told her I was in jail and assured her I'd be released soon enough. After hanging up, I was brought into an interview room.

I waited for about 30 minutes, until Zammit returned with another officer who I believe was identified to me as a detective. Once again I explained that the only reason I was at the scene was to find out what had happened and to take some pictures.

The two asked whether they could see the photos and I agreed happily. They handed me my phone and I flipped through the shots from the scene. The two convened quietly and then Zammit explained I'd be held for public intoxication.

I was allowed another phone call to the girlfriend to let her know that I would be released into her custody at 7 a.m., in approximately three hours.

Zammit apologetically let me know they'd have to place me in a cell for the duration of my stay and my belt and shoelaces would have to come off. While inconvenienced, I was still chalking this up to an educational experience. And, frankly, it wasn't that bad. I had already been given a grape cocktail in a juice box to help my dehydration. My private jail cell was immaculate, and came with its own stainless-steel toilet with a built-in drinking fountain. Not long into my stay, I was also offered a roast beef sandwich. It was not good.

I crafted myself a makeshift pillow on the concrete bed-like platform out of my hoodie and sneakers. I was hoping the hood would cover my face and block out some of the light to allow me to sleep. No luck. At one point, a polite officer checked in and offered a second grape cocktail. I took it.

Time moved slowly. As the hours passed, my body – and especially my knees, bruised from the takedown – began to notice the platform wasn't designed for a good night's sleep. When my eyes weren't closed I stared at the walls and ceiling of the cell and wondered where a person could hang himself if he did have shoelaces or a belt.

As the limited distractions in the cell grew less interesting, my mind began to wonder: How the hell did I end up in jail? A radio reporter for 11 years in Toronto – no stranger to covering police news – I had suddenly become the story. Although police don’t always like falling under the scrutiny of the media, for all intents and purposes they have always been my ally. The relationship has occasionally fallen into the dysfunctional, but by no means did I expect to one day be making an interview request with the Chief to discuss the reasons for my arrest.

In my mind, three hours had passed. Maybe even four. On the next visit from a guard I asked what time it was. He said it was after 9 a.m. – two hours after my supposed release time. Had my girlfriend not shown up to spring me from jail? The officer told me he'd look into it. And so I continued to wait.

About an hour later the door opened. I was told it was time to go home. It was with mixed feelings that I made my way back into the booking room. The girlfriend hadn't heard the whole story and was destined to be exhausted and angry. But she was nowhere to be seen.

“These officers will be taking you home,” I was told by a man on the other side of the counter. I appreciated the unexpected chauffeur service – as far as I knew cops didn’t drive criminals home – but where was my girlfriend?

“She's gone home,” was the reply. “She was here earlier.” I still had so many questions but I was also in a hurry to get out of there. I grabbed the plastic bag of my personal contents and hopped into the back of a cruiser. I quickly identified two problems. 1) My phone was dead. 2) My house keys were not in the bag. I mentioned this to the officers in front, but they didn't seem too interested.

As we pulled up to my house, I spotted a Post-it note on the front door: “Call me,” it read. Before I had a chance to point it out to the officers, they had rolled away. And so there I stood, with no house key, laceless sneakers and a phone with a dead battery.

About four hours earlier, my girlfriend had indeed arrived at 14 Division for my release. The process was taking longer than she had expected, so she lay down on a bench and attempted to rest. Her ears perked up when she heard the sounds of a man being released, but she could tell he had been imbibing far more than her boyfriend the evening before. She listened to him struggle to put on his jacket. He claimed it wasn't his, and was far too large. Then she heard another voice say, “It says Downs. It’s yours.” At this she opened her eyes and saw a guy who sort of looked like me stumbling and repeatedly dropping a smartphone on the floor. As she stared in confusion, through tired eyes and glasses with an old prescription, she saw the officer hustle the man out of the station.

A moment later, an officer approached from the other side of the glass.

“You were waiting for Downs?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said.

"John Downs?"

"Uh huh."

"That was him," the officer said with certainty.

"No it wasn't," she responded with certainty.

"John Downs? The radio host?"


"That was him."

Perplexed and beginning to question her sanity, Domini pulled out her phone and flipped to a recent photo. It was enough confirmation for the officer.

"Yup. That was him."

So why I hadn’t I walked over to her, Domini demanded to know. I was probably still too drunk to notice her – or too ashamed – the officer offered.

Domini made her back home, confused. She was angry at the officer and angry with me since I had, apparently, walked right past her. But as the hours past and I didn’t turn up at the house, she grew increasingly concerned. If that was indeed me she had seen leaving the station, something had left me more impaired than when I last saw her.

She called a neighbour for vehicular back up. They cruised the streets near 14 Division, scouring parks, diners and bus shelters. They didn't find me. Domini insisted they return to the station.

But they didn’t see me there, either. Just as she was about to leave, a young police officer poked his head through the door. "Are you looking for Downs? We just dropped him off at home."

She left, flabbergasted. A short while later her phone rang. It was me. I was back at Sam's condo.

It was over the next few days and weeks that I realized just how many things had gone wrong within the Toronto Police Service on that evening. It also made me realize that if I hadn't been a news reporter who knew Jeff Zammit, my experience could have turned out far worse.

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  • 91
  1. MS posted on 10/28/2013 07:41 PM
    Wow. Incompetence at it's best.

    Bravo TPS. Bravo!
    1. A guy posted on 10/28/2013 10:31 PM
      @MS Lets be completely clear here; this wasn't incompetence, this was abject maliciousness. The officer made up a story about John assaulting him. That alone could have utterly derailed his life, had he been somebody else.
    2. Jim Dandy posted on 10/29/2013 10:31 AM
      @MS So, with one side of the story, you are convinced. Come on - he's a journalist, same as Duffy, Pamela et all. Let's hope 1010 has the guts to fire him when the full story comes out. Also, John, cut back on the bar scene a bit. You are not going to become a Senator in any event.
    3. LMS posted on 10/29/2013 11:09 AM
      @Jim Dandy "Let's hope 1010 has the guts to fire him when the full story comes out."

      So you were there and witnessed the entire event, and counted the number of drinks he had earlier? You know "the full story"?

      No, you were not there. No, you did not track his drinks. And no, you do not know "the full story".
    4. Citizen X posted on 10/29/2013 02:30 PM
      @Jim Dandy @Jim Dandy - (or is it officer Dandy?) You must be blind to not see the changing behavior in Toronto's Police force. I used to have many of them as friends. They've all be told to disconnect with the public so I don't see them anymore. Something is up and it stinks.
    5. Facepalm posted on 10/29/2013 02:53 PM
      @A guy See, this is the sort of shit that eventually escalates into people distrusting, hating, and eventually assaulting and even killing police. When you abuse the people you're supposedly protecting, they'll get fed up eventually.

      If you do nothing and are accused of assaulting a police officer, it's not a stretch to start thinking "Well, they're going to accuse me or even charge me with assault, so I may as well actually do it," which then might becom "Well, I kicked his *ss, now I'm going to jail, may as well just to kill him, things can't get worse."

      If I were a police officer, I'd be pretty nervous about this kind of garbage being perpetrated by my colleagues, given that even an abused dog will eventually snap. The police seem to think they *are* the law, not that they simply uphold it.
    6. Tony posted on 10/30/2013 07:00 AM
      @Jim Dandy Why do you assume the reporter is at fault? Are you a cop too?
    7. LEP posted on 10/30/2013 10:49 AM
      @Jim Dandy Jim - please stop trolling.
    8. Chris DeChamplain posted on 10/30/2013 08:55 PM
      @Jim Dandy So, with one side of the story, you are convinced he did something wrong. Come on. You're the same as Harper, Pamela et all. Let's hope your boss has the guts to fire you when your sordid life story comes out. Also, Jim, cut back on the judgemental crap a bit. You are not going to become a Senator in any event.

      See what I did there? If you want to spew hate-fueled nonsense at someone, at least have the courtesy to do something constructive with it. You want to assume he did wrong, fine. Prove it. You can't, though. Nor will you find any proof.

      This is hardly the first time in recent days that the TPS has been responsible for serious problems. The fact that you dismiss it outright means either A) You work for them b) You work with them or c) You are completely clueless and are simply here to be an internet troll.

      I know folks who've been on the receiving end of the TPS nonsense. A few of whom were simply walking to work during the G20 and got detained for about 12 hours. For walking. To work. Without being a threat. I don't care what nonsensical excuse you want to spew out. It happened, and it shouldn't have, at all.

      Most cops are amazingly good. But a few are very, very bad. Just like any other person. Dismissing a story like this outright only proves your ignorance.
  2. Carl O posted on 10/28/2013 07:45 PM
    Yet another example of what I feel is the fact that the police are out of control. They are no longer there to serve or protect. They believe that they a free to do anything they want and are not accountable to anyone. And I think that, as in any organization, you have to place the blame on the leadership, right in Blair's lap as well as they police boards which are totally useless, rubber stamping anything the police chief's tell them to do.. I feel the problem is that they select the wrong people and they don't train them adequately and on top of that the final indignity is that they are grossly overpaid.
  3. Ray posted on 10/28/2013 07:45 PM
    Just another story of Toronto's finest doing what they do.

    What a bad situation. I hate to say it, but it would have been 100% worse of you were a minority. Punches, kicks, verbal abuse, etc.

    The majority of people in authority are drunk with power.
  4. Carl O posted on 10/28/2013 07:55 PM
    I'm you. A REAL newsman would have released the story immediately. I think you lost sight of what news is and put your personal state above that. Not surprised though, because you are in "radio journalism."
    1. Brandon H posted on 10/29/2013 01:06 PM
      @Carl O Or he wanted to wait for the issue to make its way through the system first, to the point where the investigation was started, and then bring it up. I dunno, that sounds like a good idea to me.
  5. Bob posted on 10/28/2013 08:02 PM
    Question. If the crown threw out the assault charges, what happened to the firefighter who made the accusations?

    He should be held accountable.
  6. Jada posted on 10/28/2013 08:10 PM
    I can't believe that guy who called in to accuse you of over acting because you were the media. I don't care how much anyone dislike you John, these is no excuse for what was done to you.

    The cops seem to think that they are some superhuman and people should be treat like dirt whenever they choose. I do not trust them and most people I know do not trust them. I hate to paint them all with the same brush, but i have yet to meet a cop that treated anyone with respect.

    Just say you thank God you are not black, you might have been a dead man today.
    1. Carl O posted on 10/28/2013 08:27 PM
      @Jada Why do blacks always think they are the only people who are badly treated? Too much naval gazing.
    2. Patrick L posted on 10/29/2013 12:48 AM
      @Carl O @Carl O: "naval gazing"? Enjoy staring at sailors much, Carl?
    3. Jim Dandy posted on 10/29/2013 10:42 AM
      @Jada Wow! You know 'what was done to [him]' Good thing you were there or seen the independent footage because you are clearly too clever to take the word of a journalist. Duffy and Pamela thank you also.
  7. Jim007 posted on 10/28/2013 09:14 PM
    Interesting! I know someone that was accused of being intoxicated by a firefighter at that exact location. That person was also arrested for intoxication. You have my email fee free to contact me/ I'm curious as to who the officers were.
  8. Bill Blair (aka Chief Wiggum) posted on 10/28/2013 10:47 PM
    I'm not sure what's more infuriating: the paranoid accusations of the hose pumper, or the reporter's gutless withholding of said accuser's name.

    Mr. Downs should do his part to help ensure this doesn't recur, and disclose the name of the water squirter who made the false accusation.
    1. sam posted on 10/29/2013 10:33 PM
      @Bill Blair (aka Chief Wiggum) I agree. With more and more video proof that police are liars it makes you wonder how many people are victims of fabricated charges. John should charge the roofer/part time squirter and the cop.
  9. Skeptical posted on 10/29/2013 12:12 AM
    Let me be the voice of reason here. I'm not defending the TPS even though I do feel that they get a bad rap, and do a lot of good things which aren't newsworthy in this city, as it is fashionable to be anti-police. So, Downsie was stumbling around a crime scene drunk, getting in the way, was told to leave by an emergency service worker, ignored that, possibly swung at him (we should believe you, admittedly intoxicated over a firefighter), was arrested, were so intoxicated that you were thrown in the drunk tank, and we should believe YOU over everyone else. Never mind that this was such a travesty of justice that you wait nearly a year to report it. Sounds more like someone who is looking for some limelight to me. Maybe you should've stayed on the streetcar since you were intoxicated.
    1. Greg posted on 10/29/2013 02:13 PM
      @Skeptical So taking the word of the police and firefighter without question and adding hyperbole to the story is being the "voice of reason"?
      I guess you could testify about this since you were obviously there as you describe the scene as only someone who was present could.
  10. Christian posted on 10/29/2013 12:49 AM
    Why did he wait a year, that's what I can't understand.
    Why did he not call the station's legal department from the police department? That is standard practice in News
    1. Jim Dandy posted on 10/29/2013 10:44 AM
      @Christian Not when you are drunk!
    2. Lina posted on 10/29/2013 05:13 PM
      @Jim Dandy @Jim Dandy,
      Which division do you work at?
  11. ctwr9-11 posted on 10/29/2013 01:24 AM
    While I have rarely agreed with John Downs' viewpoint, I do believe his account of what happened with Toronto Police. Strangely similar stories of brutality & false arrest have been widely documented in the news without any accountability from the officers involved. I have even heard & witnessed arrests of innocent people I know personally. While I have always been a law abiding citizen, I too have been bullied & harassed by Toronto Police, who re-victimized me after I was violently assaulted, without provocation at my apt building by my slumlords on 2 separate occasions.

    These new owners had already wrongly evicted half a dozen good tenants and when I refused to leave, they tried evicting me without grounds. When I won that they started their intimidation tactics. I believe their motives were to flip our old low rise for huge profit, turning it into a well appointed high rise building. On both occasions when I called the police, they interviewed my Romanian attackers whose partners falsely claimed to have witnessed me attacking them ~ blatant lies. I called the police every day for the next 5 days without any officers ever being dispatched.

    When I finally documented & began healing from my injuries, I drove to the station to file a formal complaint. The officers basically ignored me for an hour, but when I finally had the chance to speak to an officer, my slumlords entered the precinct to file more false charges against me. When I then tried to show them photos of my injuries & the written eviction decision in my favour, one of the female supervisors stepped toward me at the front desk, drew her weapon, pointed it directly at me and screamed "Step back or I will have to charge you with obstruction!!" I was in total shock but immediately complied because I was sure she was going to shoot me!! None of the other officers even flinched. Despite never having resolved the assaults, I decided to leave, to never trust another Toronto cop, nor set foot in those toxic premises again. I came to the unsettling realization that if police could treat me so abusively after I was already victimized & violated by real criminals who had a key to my apartment, then this kind of bullying can probably happen to ANYBODY.

    I hope you "name names" John and get that bad cop & firefighter charged. I believe we are living in a police state which will only get worse, if citizens remain silent out of fear & intimidation by cops who only serve & protect each other.
    1. Blix Nood posted on 10/29/2013 05:05 AM
      @ctwr9-11 Why don't you name names and tell us who the slumlords are and what building they own(ed).
    2. Batesy posted on 10/29/2013 11:30 PM
      @Blix Nood Canadian libel law holds you guilty until proven innocent?
  12. driver posted on 10/29/2013 07:47 AM
    The Toronto Police have felt empowered to do as they please, particularly since the Harper Cons emboldened them for the G20.

    They have been taught to not listen to anyone's explanation as to who, what, where, when, why, and to just 'round them up and let the courts settle it' mandate that was issued.

    There's lots to add but time is of essence.

    Bottom line is JD could have been treated a lot worse if he wasn't recognized by one officer as a Reporter and wasn't white.

    Oh and a big PS I thought of last night as I listened;

    Next time you are off work and see something rather routine going on, call the office.

    You need develop 'work-life balance'.

    Blood on the streets downtown is a multiple occurrence any weekend and is basically a shrug my shoulders story that I don't even read about..........
  13. tony posted on 10/29/2013 08:42 AM
    this sounds familiar, many before you have complained about the same treatment, now that you have experienced it first hand, be aware of how you go about treating this story...
  14. AV posted on 10/29/2013 08:48 AM
    Get some of the camera footage from the clubs in the area, then sue the $hit out of TPS and TFD for false claims and assault. Blow it wide open and wait for them to cut you a fat cheque for their maliciousness.
  15. Shane posted on 10/29/2013 08:49 AM
    I don't get it. You interfered with a fireman helping someone. You were hammered. What's your deal? You even stated..."it's okay....I'm media". You do realize that every citizen is entitled to film emergancy workers if they believe the is injustice. So being "media" means nothing. Being drunk does though. I like where you say you "wondered where a person could hang himself if he did have shoelaces or a belt". Wow. Man up. Be an adult and don't interfere with police while intoxicated.
    1. MS posted on 10/29/2013 10:05 AM
      @Shane Did you even read the story??? John was clear.

      "..Where by now the injured young man was being loaded into an ambulance."

      So, he wasn't interfering with EMS helping someone.
    2. Brandon H posted on 10/29/2013 01:16 PM
      @MS The people that are posting things negatively, or out of disbelief of John's story, are likely flexing their own personal opinions of John into the story, and skewing it so they can "call him out". Selective reading and hearing are rampant in those that claim that John was this belligerent intoxicated douche. If he had actually done something wrong, he would have been charged and convicted. But he wasn't, as the allegations were dropped.
  16. Jen posted on 10/29/2013 08:51 AM
    If the police could fabricate a story, maybe all of them should take a lie detector test in court to back up their statements before the judge will admit the statements. If you story is true, I will be losing a lot of faith of the police force - I found this is very disturbing!
  17. Conor D. O'Hare posted on 10/29/2013 08:52 AM
    While I understand Mr. Downs' concern regarding the application of authority by the officer in question, his actions demonstrated extremely poor judgment. After consuming a significant amount of alcohol, why would he see fit to practice his trade? Go home and stay home. I certainly would not attempt to practice law after consuming 8 drinks. And it begs to be asked, why sit on the story for over 9 months? To say he was waiting for the Court case to run its course is disingenuous at best. Methinks the story was going to come to light and hence, his decision to discuss it publicly. More likely, Mr. Downs was embarrased by his poor judgment.
    1. MABS posted on 10/29/2013 09:41 AM
      @Conor D. O'Hare I agree with the author of comment above. Drinker beware, and all of that. No point in poking your nose into a situation where it does not belong when you've had four or five too many, regardless of your "media status" at the time of incident/infraction. You were no hero that night, unfortunately.
    2. sigh posted on 10/29/2013 11:14 AM
      @MABS "Drinker beware, and all of that..."

      Fine logic. Anyone on the street after a few drinks is liable for false arrest for assault police?

      Some world you'd have us life in.
    3. MABS posted on 10/29/2013 11:49 AM
      @sigh One reaps what one sows.
  18. Bettie posted on 10/29/2013 08:57 AM
    " .... January 18, 2013, was a Friday. ...." I don't understand the delay. Why wait so long before bringing this up?
    1. johnny posted on 10/29/2013 09:18 AM
      @Bettie It also means he had 8 months to proof read.
  19. Johnny posted on 10/29/2013 09:08 AM
    Does anyone proof read anything anymore? Wow.
  20. Robi posted on 10/29/2013 09:12 AM
    Time to put the TPS under a microscope. This city has gone to long with these well to-do-public servants pretending to act in the best interest of the community. The TPS has to be overhauled and certain individuals need to be retired and or let go. There is a certain underlying cronyism that has festered in the TPS for generations, that needs to be addressed. But how do we do this with desired results? That is the question!
  21. Gayforford posted on 10/29/2013 09:28 AM
    John is a pompous jerk now we have the proof karma is a witch vote for ford
    1. Facepalm posted on 10/29/2013 03:01 PM
      @Gayforford I am ashamed to admit I voted for Ford due to a lack of real competition. The guy's an alcoholic hypocritical retard who lacks the humility required to actually be ashamed of himself.
  22. Sully posted on 10/29/2013 09:46 AM
    Eight or nine drinks in 4 hours??? Hmmm.......
  23. David G. posted on 10/29/2013 09:51 AM
    Fire him! This is a man that can't control his drink. High standards for our hosts show must be upheld. Fire him!
  24. J.S. Etobicoke posted on 10/29/2013 09:58 AM
    Really, I mean really CFRB and Bell Media. What other trash can you sling. Nine months after the fact, no charges, just a fine what is the story here? Just something that you John Downs can fabricate and you can hurl at your dwindling listeners. John Downs, no credibility at all, never had it and never will. What double speak. There is no story here. Must be a slow month in the news business. The amount of time your are dedicating to this self serving pomposity is beyond reprehensible. Stop spinning into your own grave. And Jerry Agar will pander to anything.
  25. Angry Bill posted on 10/29/2013 10:04 AM
    There are decent cops out there. If you look, you can find decent people in almost any organization.

    But, there is definitely a systemic problem with the Toronto cops. What happened to Downs happens almost every day to other people.. The cops are complaining that Downs has a "platform". Maybe they should have thought about Downs' "platform" before railroading him.

    I've been involved with cops before, and believe me, they are not a bastion of efficiency and and justice. You give the average person a badge and a gun, and watch how fast they become full of themselves, and develop an attitude. Like I said earlier, you can find decent people in any organization, so I'm not painting everyone with this same brush. But on average, in most cases, this is what happens. Cops railroad people every day, and most people don't have John Downs' platform with his ability to fight back. THAT's the only thing the cops don't like about this entire situation.. That their tactics are being reported on first hand, and not just by some schmuck in the street.

    And to the people who say Downs was drunk and so deserved whatever the cops did to him, can't wait until you are on the receiving end of this kind of treatment. The public loves to stick their head in the sand and think that just because they're not doing anything wrong, nothing will happen to them. Until it does.

    John Downs would have been there taking pictures whether he'd been drinking or not. He'd have been cuffed even if he'd had no drinks. The thing that gets me about this is, the fabricated story about Downs taking a swing at the firefighter. In any other case, 2 "professionals" fabricating that sort of story between them is enough to convict some poor schmuck in court, who doesn't stand a chance in our dyslexic legal system. It begs the question, just how often does that sort of thing go on? I'm willing to bet a lot more often than you would care to believe. John does need to get this sort of thing out in the open. This sort of thing should be uncovered.
    1. Jim Dandy posted on 10/29/2013 10:52 AM
      @Angry Bill I agree with your statement but have changed 2 words. Still true.
      You give the average person a media pass and a microphone, and watch how fast they become full of themselves, and develop an attitude. Just ask Duffy or Pamela,
    2. come on posted on 10/29/2013 11:17 AM
      @Jim Dandy The whole point of the media is to "develop and attitude" and become "full of theselves"... full of the idea that when a question needs to be asked, it deserves an answer. Think about what the world would be like if media operated meekly, with no passion or committment, without a motivated sense of entitlement to truth.
  26. Bobbi posted on 10/29/2013 10:57 AM
    You left "the girlfriend" alone to find her own way home on a Toronto streetcar at 2:00am in the morning? I think maybe your judgment was off on the evening in question.
  27. Glen Miller posted on 10/29/2013 12:06 PM
    Down goes Downs... down goes down Downs. I would have love to have seen this little communist incur a little pain at the hands of the force that he consistently slams.
  28. crusty posted on 10/29/2013 12:07 PM
    I don't really like Downs, but believe that what he says happened to him. I hope One day the cocksucker that fabricated the bullshit that "Downs assaulted a firefighter" gets run over by a go train. Scumbags!!! I heard the police spokesdude I think his name was "Mark Douchebad" trying to put words in Johns mouth, and repeating himself like 6-7 times. There clearly is a problem with this Police organization. Scumbag cops. No shit people hate the cops, seems like they want to be hated.
  29. Bob Dobbs posted on 10/29/2013 12:59 PM
    Inevitably, the badge licker brigade will show up to burst with reverence and pride at how noble police and firefighters are, and an eagle will shed a single tear against the backdrop of an American flag. Then some country musician with a goatee will write a song about it.
  30. Phil posted on 10/29/2013 01:39 PM

    I've heard you get short with listeners and at times get agressive with callers both on CFRB and back in the AM640 days. And before your encounter with the cops and firefighters you had six or eight drinks. Given your well known short fuse and your drinking on that night I'd say it's likely, or possible, that you were rude and arrogant. I'm sure you weren't all sweetness and light as you have portrayed yourself. I'm no fan of cops, and like a lot of people fear an encounter with them however I feel there are three sides to the story of what actually happened. Yours, theirs, and the truth.

  31. J macleod posted on 10/29/2013 01:50 PM
    After listening to John with his colleagues on air both yesterday evening and this morning with Dave, there are so many inconsistencies and changes in his version of what occurred that it is difficult to take him seriously. It does seem that he is also using his media platform almost frivolously to try to turn his personal incident into something newsworthy; which it isn't.
  32. Steve posted on 10/29/2013 01:53 PM
    "Whenever I witness a scene like that...the reporter part of my brain takes over...not knowing whether I could have called a fire or homicide into the newsroom will haunt me if don’t check things out."

    So if that's his reason for stopping at scenes like this then he should have kept going because the cops and medical help were already there.

    What i see is one side of a story about a radio news guy out at 2am after drinking trying to be mr bad ass journalist with his cell phone. It wasn't even that newsworthy and was more for his ego and "the girlfriend's" benefit; "You go home honey, I'm gonna go cover this breaking news story about a guy who was just here and bled a little on the street!". What a douche. He was out drinking till 2 am, was intoxicated and looked it, and for all we know he did take a swing at the fireman.
  33. Jer posted on 10/29/2013 01:59 PM
    When the fireman asked him what he was doing and asked him to stop he should have STOPPED until the cops came over and talked to him. He said he went to take another picture... Very possible he just dropped his phone.

    I don't support uneccesary use of force, and I missed parts of the discussion last night, but, I feel like John's intoxication does influence what he remembers of the night.
  34. Yo posted on 10/29/2013 02:47 PM
    BREAKING NEWS! Drunk man gets in the face of firefighters and police, ends up in drunk tank.
  35. Doug Marshall posted on 10/29/2013 04:04 PM
    Although I find Downs to be an irritating little twerp on the radio, I believe every word he says about this encounter with the TPS. I am not a police basher and am old enough to remember when the TPS was well regarded in this city -- actually respected. That feeling ended when Bill Blair arrived on the scene. He has allowed the likes of Mike McCorack to mould this force into a collection of bullies, liars, and worse. As a mature, middle-class, white man I am now very, very afraid of the TPS. I will do anything possible to avoid any kind of encounter with the TPS. They are thugs who will lay a beating on any citizen -- any time -- for any reason. Express even the slightest resistance -- such as requesting a lawyer -- and they will beat you unconscious. Then claim that you were assaulting an officer !! When people like me and my friends (in their sixties) share this belief you have to know that something is dreadfully wrong with this police force. I would hate to be a young, black man growing up in Toronto ! It's time Blair was fired and the whole mess cleaned up.
    I constantly warn my family NOT to make the mistake of thinking that the TPS are your friends. Avoid them at all costs. Do not step forward even if you witness a crime. Walk away. The TPS will ruin your life -- even if you are an innocent witness/victim. They are brutes. The few decent cops will NEVER step forward to assist anyone. They too are afraid. The G20 was indeed a watershed in this community. If you live in this community, it is NOT IN YOUR BEST INTERESTS to participate in any "street demonstrations". FOR ANY REASON. Stay home and be safe. Do anything you can to avoid any kind of encounter with the TPS. Or pay the price. Poor John Downs. He is a marked man.
    1. Michael Evans posted on 10/29/2013 07:53 PM
      @Doug Marshall @Doug Marshall,
      I agree with a lot of what you said, but this police mentality is not just a Toronto/ GTA thing, it seems rampant in North America. You hear stories from minorities about abuses but it's no longer a race issue only. They seem to have an "Us or Them" attitude.
      I too am a white male in my mid 40's, not only a
      1 percenter but in the top 0.4% of wage earners in Canada. Over the last few years, mostly since the G20, and greater use of cell phone and internet videos, I have woken to the reality of the attitudes of those that are supposed to "Protect and Serve" the people of Canada. The police have become confrontational and abusive towards the average citizen when they interact with the public.
      I have also learned that the police seem to have an issue with those that drive high end luxury vehicles. Two years ago I was stopped by the police for what they called "illegal wheel rims" that came stock issued on my car. I was held up for about 45 minutes then let go. Earlier this year I was rightly pulled over for an expired sticker on Sunday June 2 for a plate sticker that was valid until the end of May. I thought I had another year but I was wrong. The attitude that the Officer had was absolutely horrible and I actually thought he was going to get physical. I went out a bought a dashcam unit in case I have another encounter with a cop. Pretty sad state in society when an upstanding citizen feels the need to protect himself from the police. Their "comply or die" philosophy needs to change.
    2. ken u believe it posted on 03/26/2014 12:17 PM
      @Michael Evans More people have to speak up about police brutality. I am a 68 year old, lived my whole life in this country and have never been arrested or charged with any crime. I AM AFRAID OF THE POLICE. I believe many people had their eyes opened when they saw the behaviour of the police at the G20. The police were once held in high regard. that was before they converted to a military organization. Our other military organizations exist to make war on the enemies of our country. In the case of our police WE THE CITIZENS OF CANADA ARE THE ENEMY. We need to reverse this and have the police Serve and Protect the people of this country and not themselves. We need a grass routes movement to let politicians know we need control over our out of control police.
  36. John S posted on 10/29/2013 04:49 PM
    1) do the cops not want photos of the scene because it could show their improper conduct? (don't forget that it was the video of the shooting of the kid in the TTC that brought that officer to justice)
    2) what was the story of the person loaded into the ambulance? why so much blood?
    3) How could they say they released a guy named Downs when it wasn't -- don't they ask people their names?
    4) at what point did the reporter get his phone back, and was it the phone being repeatedly dropped by the guy who was given his jacket? who was that guy, and did he get the jacket back (meaning, was the phone 'dropped' on purpose to destroy it?)

    After the G20, when it was shown how the police repeatedly broke the law, is it any wonder that people are suspicious? Again: a kid on the TTC was shot and killed, when all they had to do was wait.
  37. Dave posted on 10/29/2013 04:59 PM
    Mr. Downs you had no business getting off that streetcar that night. You should have just kept your mouth shut for once, and headed home. Having anything more than 5/6 drinks in a few hours runs you way past the point to be a "qualified" media reporter, or a "professional" anything.
    I heard you on Agar's show after 9am this morning, and it was at that point I no longer had an open mind about your situation. Taking Toronto Police actions aside for a minute, your actions and public drunkenness reflects poorly on the station. I would have expected if the station was still owned by Standard Radio, you would be looking for a new job today. Lucky for you standards are lower today. You should have just stayed back out of the way, and called it in to the news room. I most certainly would have not left my girlfriend to walk alone after the streetcar ride at that time of night. As a matter of fact I would never consume more alcohol to the point that I could not look out for my wife's safety and best interests while riding public transit late at night.
    I agree there are problems within the Toronto Police Service in light of recent events, but inserting your self into a public situation after drinking can only lead to trouble for you and the EMS / Police Services. Its possible that those very same officers and Firemen have been dealing with drunks and fighting all night long. Then along comes you, just another drunken idiot with a cell phone, and you're surprised you received a free ride down to 14 Division?
  38. Terence posted on 10/29/2013 05:04 PM
    This doesn't surprise me.
  39. Cat posted on 10/29/2013 05:36 PM
    Hey, we all know that even if Downs threw a punch, it would have been like being punched by a rag doll. After all, last week we found out that he gets pwned each and every night by his girl cat. He's less then a pussy, so how could this be assault?

    I think Downs is not lying nor exaggerating on this story. He may have taken a swing of sorts, like in a wave, but really he had those drinks over 6+ hours along with food. I doubt he was that snookered. He just ticked off the firefighter, who thought Downs was something other then a reporter, had the cops deal with him. The cops then screwed up with their treatment of him. It really was a screw up all around but more on the cops and firefighters than Downs.
  40. Ray posted on 10/29/2013 06:02 PM
    There is an easy solution to all of this.

    Make every police officer wear a GoPro camera.

    They can't lie (as easily) when all of their encounters are recorded.
    1. Jimmy posted on 10/29/2013 09:06 PM
      @Ray Police in Rialto CA wearing on uniform cameras in a test run.

      88% reduction in complaints.
      60% reduction in use of force.

      So 60% of the time police in other departments use force, they would have decided against if they were being recorded?

      This is seriously the best news story I've seen in weeks. Copfags are mad as fuck. Not like they can kick their own ass for filming them.

  41. clipe posted on 10/29/2013 06:29 PM
    Dear John,
    Your good friend Matt Gurney says...

    "Downs agrees he had been drinking that evening, over the previous four hours, including drinks with dinner and some cocktails later on with friends. He estimates he may have consumed as much as eight or nine drinks over the span of four hours"

    Admit it. You were heavily intoxicated due to the fact the "some cocktails" are stronger than others.
    What were you drinking? How big was the glass you were drinking from?

    Eight or nine Buds in four hours is enough to knock most people over.
  42. clipe posted on 10/29/2013 06:50 PM
    Also John,
    Are you eshtemating how many drinks you met and how many ociffers had?
  43. Ron L posted on 10/29/2013 07:09 PM
    Hey Downs, why don't you get over. If you had minded your own business nothing would have happened. Your just a smart assed know-it-all looking for attention. Maybe some AA meetings might help keep you out of trouble in the future.
  44. Paul Joss posted on 10/29/2013 07:27 PM
    you got off better than me I was punched in the face shoulder ripped from socket now have arms in slings plus court to deal with waiting for Doctors to fix some of the damage so may be able t lift my arms
  45. Joe posted on 10/29/2013 08:04 PM
    As a credible public personality, I believe John’s side of
    the story. I also had an experience with police making up stories in their
    evidence. I got pulled over one night and the officer dinged me for both
    running a stop sign and following too closely. I requested to see a copy of his
    notes before trial, and they were a total fabrication!
  46. Mark posted on 10/29/2013 08:38 PM
    Even though I think Downs is a metro sexual lefty dink, I do not think he is the type of person that would behave in a manner that would require a cop to force him to the ground in a violent manner that results in injury.

    It has been obvious for some time that cops in many cities across Canada are out of control.

    No question in my mind that the Sami kid was murdered and that if a video was not taken then the cops would have covered up the murder. This makes the cops a public
    paid criminal organization.

    Toronto cops need a slap down.
  47. bill posted on 10/29/2013 09:12 PM

    I feel that the bar has been lowered for the reccent recuits taken into the Police Forces in Canada in the past 10 years due to POLITICAL CORRECTNESS. I realize we need diversity but blatant discrimination aginst white males to meet a certain quota and hire by ethnic/gender quota versus the most qualified is now showing itself.
    I deal with a number of Police Forces across Canada and I broached the subject to an experienced office of over 20 years in the service and he agreed with me privately as he could not be quoted that the standards have been lowered tp meet quota.
    My son graduated from the Police Foundation Course a few years ago in the top 5% of the class, deans honours list, 94% GPA and 3 years Army reserve service and Metro Police would not even give him an interview but the Canadian Military Police took him within 1 year of application and checking references and their criteria is more strict than domestice Police forces. - You pay for what you get.
  48. Ann posted on 10/29/2013 09:34 PM
    This story sounds so familiar to a situation I witnessed in April of this year.

    I was walking down the platform of the Bloor subway station during peak rush hour. As a group of around 100 people are funneling down to get to east/west subway platform, going towards the jam packed escalator, 4 cops (led by a giant one), decided to cut across the crowd. In doing so, the giant pretty much elbowed/pushed the guy directly in front of me. The then said "watch where you're going"... the giant then says "a**hole", and continues along his way to the washroom.

    Down on the east / west platform as I'm waiting for the subway (5min after the pushing incident), the 4 cops come storming towards this guy, grab him from where he was standing, yell "you're under arrest for assaulting a police officer", then throw him on the ground with his knee in his back. The guy is pleading, ..."I just had back surgery!"... and "I'm a teacher!", but the giant doesn't care as he continues to put his whole body weight into this poor guy's back.

    The commuters are stunned, I'm in shock. I told the guy as he was down that I saw it all, and he in no way assaulted anybody and it was the cop who shoved him. I told one of the other cops that I saw it all and this guy did nothing, and that I would report it. She laughed in my face and said "to who?".

    Unfortunately the guy yelled out his name to me, but during the madness, I don't remember it. I'm just hopeful that he wasn't actually charged after all that, since I'm pretty sure as a teacher, he would have issues getting a job.
    1. Dave posted on 10/30/2013 08:47 PM
      @Ann It takes three people to counter the word of one cop in court.

      TPS was actually pretty good... about 15 years ago.

      There was a similar incident that happened to me last year. I was assaulted by a drunk mob and cops threatened *me* with charges. They shut up once I said that a certain Supt. would be called in to the mix... and when they ran me and found out who my lawyer is...

      Yep, sad to say, the only way to speak to cops is in the language they understand: money.

      It would also be a good idea if these "professionals" had to carry their own lawsuit insurance instead of sucking off taxpayers. That would get the scumbag cops off the force, the same way they do it for most professions: they won't be able to get insurance coverage for malpractice.
  49. Sandy posted on 10/29/2013 09:35 PM
    I had quite an awful experience as well, I've been afraid to talk about it, because I'm afraid of the police. I am a female 5'2" and the entered my home and the lead cop kicked me and dragged me down a sidewalk in handcuffs, and more.....
  50. Stuart posted on 10/29/2013 11:16 PM
    Something similar happened to me a few years ago. It is nice to know that there is no statute of limitations on assaulting a peace office - the charge can be brought back at any time - assault in a legal sense means the feeling of being threatened - in this case, I might have accidentally brushed my finger against an officer while trying to point. I will never trust these thugs again - collusion, overwhelming force, outright lies are par for the course. And oh yeah, they threatened to charge my mother with obstruction of justice because she was asking where they were taking me to - serve and protect, yeah right. It is almost to the point where it is dangerous to be in public alone, because any encounter with police when you are alone is that much more dangerous and easier for the trumped up or false charges to be laid. If this kind of thing happens to John Downs, how many people do you think it happens to every day?
  51. Ben Hoogenband posted on 10/30/2013 12:06 AM
    The only way to get this bad police behavior under control is to shine the light on it time and time again until the public demands the higher authorities to control their police force.
    Thank you John for sharing your experience and for shining the light on yet another abuse of authority by those that have sworn to protect and serve.
  52. lea posted on 10/30/2013 03:43 AM
    Alcohol testing is needed to sort false arrests from real concerns. Which is this? We need police reform asap, not a police state. Let's discipline, or better still, remove those making arrests for the wrong reasons, and let's support valid arrests.
  53. Gman posted on 10/30/2013 03:49 AM
    John Downs is obnoxious enough sober to earn himself a beating.
  54. Frankie posted on 10/30/2013 03:04 PM
    My family has experienced similar police corruption where a cop's family member threatened our family and police believed them even though we only knew his father was a cop was related to his threat.

    cops refused to do anything. I used to support police with donations, etc. Since that day I assume they're all corrupt unless they prove otherwise.

    To be clear, my use of "corrupt" refers to the way they treat themselves above the way they treat us.

    Disappointed John didn't pursue action against police. The more we go after these egregious actions the greater chance they will realize they can't abuse our trust.
  55. TOmedic posted on 10/30/2013 10:00 PM
    I have worked in EMS, in Toronto, for more than a decade. I can honestly say one of the MOST obnoxious things that happens is people wanting to take pictures of a call we are on with their cell phones. REAL media stay back and out of the way, using their cameras. Drunk people and annoying onlookers use their cell phones and get in the way. Add to that the INVASION OF PRIVACY. If you were the patient do you want people taking pictures? Random drunks having you on their phones, while you are at your most vulnerable?? I have been pushed out of the way so people could get a better picture. It's pathetic and it's WRONG. Why the fire fighter would say you took a swing at someone if you didn't I don't know. Fire fighters tend to think they are teflon lately and nothing can come back on them. If he lied I hope you are vindicated and he is punished (but don't hold your breath).

    NEXT TIME - if someone asks you to stop taking pictures of an emergency call that is going on STOP. Get the person's name and/or badge number. Go to their division and file a complaint. Be a jerk and instigate a problem and you will wake up in the drunk tank.
  56. IAN posted on 10/31/2013 03:57 PM
    John - Why is it that when little guys drink too much they usually end up getting thumped by big guys ? Little guys never thump other little guys. There is a lesson in this for you. You got tossed and flopped. Man up and stop whining like a girl.

  57. John rough posted on 11/01/2013 03:04 PM
    John is an outstanding news reporter. An employee any news station would welcome . A man who gives his all ,drunk or sober , ready to leave his girl friend on a streetcar to get her own way home just to get a picture of blood on the sidewalk This is pure dedication . A man who even though he is out for a night of heavy drinking put his news station first. Not too many employees in this day and age would make such a sacrifice . Good job John I am just sorry those nasty firemen and police officer spoiled your moment of fame .
    1. Spot posted on 12/26/2013 10:35 AM
      @John rough Sarcasm at its finest! Good job!
  58. Gilbert posted on 11/20/2013 09:49 PM
    i had a simmilar situation happen. but with a plain cloths officer's of the vpd who were very mean and my wrists were bleeding they charged me for resisting arrest on 2 counts. and gave me a ticket for drinking in public funny as i was drinking an amp energy drink, and amp is not a beer. they will probably use the 2 beer in my pack i was holding for a friend. well i do hope the charges get dropped in court.
  59. Spot posted on 12/26/2013 10:33 AM
    This is not an exceptional incident; it happens frequently in all parts of Canada with all police forces.
    There are 2 sets of laws, one for the general public and one for the members of Law Enforcement.
    Rather sad!
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