TORONTO — A key Crown witness was beaten so savagely by some of the police officers accused in a massive corruption case that he feared for his life, court heard Tuesday.
“I was semi-conscious, I was covered in blood from head to toe,” said Christopher Quigley, a jewelry broker and one-time drug dealer.
“I was terrified, I really thought I was going to die. I thought it was possible they were going to kill me in this room.”
Quigley, on the stand for a second day of the long-delayed trial of five former Toronto drug squad officers, said he was punched, kicked and choked as the officers asked where he kept his drugs and money until he lost consciousness.
“I was being pulverized,” he said.
Quigley alleges the attack was unprovoked and began when the unit’s head, John Schertzer, hit him across the face after he was taken in for questioning over stolen sunglasses.
He testified that he was later subjected to three sets of beatings by another one of the accused, Ned Maodus, along with another officer who is not part of the trial.
Steven Correia, the third officer accused, helped transport him in and out of the interrogation room during his nine-hour detention, Quigley said, at one point having to hold him up because he couldn’t walk.
All along, Quigley testified, they asked him where he kept his drugs and his money, threatening to ransack his apartment if he didn’t comply.
“You better tell these guys what they want to hear or this is going to go on all night,” Quigley said Correia told him.
He complied, but asked they be careful with his dog, a Boston terrier, from whom Quigley “cared deeply,” court heard.
When he eventually got home, Quigley found his apartment was “torn apart,” items were missing, and his dog had been let out into the street — although he was later found by the Humane Society.
The beatings ended as suddenly as they started, Quigley said, and he was eventually taken to a holding cell.
“That’s when I started throwing up blood, and I was choking on my blood. I couldn’t breathe,” he said.
“I recall blacking out and the next thing I know all hell broke lose.”
Quigley said he was rushed to hospital, were staff were “horrified” by his injuries.
He was eventually released on bail and later charged with various offences. He pleaded those down to possession of marijuana, he said, because his lawyer told him “it was the best deal you’re going to get.”
As part of that deal, he also agreed not to sue the officers who allegedly assaulted him.
Police reports suggest Quigley became violent upon hearing his then 60-year-old mother’s home was also being searched, something he denies.
He also said that only a portion of the $54,000 the officers seized from him was eventually returned, since the officers’ log showed the safety deposit box with the money only contained $22,850.
Quigley’s is the first of five cases the Crown intends to use to prove the officers showed a pattern of violence, beating up and intimidating suspects, stealing from them, conducting illegal searches, and then lying to prosecutors to cover their tracks.
The case against Schertzer, Maodus, Correia, Joseph Miched and Raymond Pollard goes back more than a decade.
Charges were first laid in 2004, but delays have slowed the case’s progress through the courts.
The men have all pleaded not guilty and none of the allegations have been proven in court.
The defence will get their change to cross-examine Quigley on Wednesday.