A Crown witness has told the corruption trial of five former Toronto drug squad officers that he was so badly beaten by police he thought he would die from his injuries.
"I thought they were going to kill me,” Chris Quigley testified Tuesday, the second day of the trial of five former Toronto police drug squad officers charged with committing a savage beating, extortion, theft of thousands in cash and a conspiracy to lie about and cover up a series of illegal arrests, searches and seizures.
Quigley is the Crown’s lead witness and described in detail being threatened and subjected to a series of three beatings while in custody at Toronto police 53 Division near Yonge and Eglinton over the night of April 30 and May 1, 1998.
The first incident, Quigley told the jury, began with lead drug squad Det. John Schertzer hitting him with an open hand, demanding to know where Quigley had stashed drugs and money.
Then, after being moved to a small interrogation room, Quigley said he was left alone for approximately half an hour before a second round of abuse.
“I recall two officers coming in the room opening the door, and just pulverized me. They started punching me, kicking me. They opened the door. I was punched right in the face by Ned Maodus and his partner Richard Benoit, who was also kicking me and beating me,” Quigley told the court. “I was in a semi-conscious state. I was bleeding head to toe.”
Crown prosecutor John Pearson repeatedly asked Quigley if he had done anything to provoke the officers.
“Absolutely nothing, sir,” Quigley responded, later admitting he was a small-scale pot dealer who also sold gemstones for a living.
'Where’s the money? Where’s the drugs?'
Quigley testified he was left alone again, then visited by another accused drug officer, Steve Correia.
"I was told, 'You better give us some information. You better talk to us. Where’s the money? Where’s the drugs?' I recall being asked that many times,“ Quigley said.
Correia then led him to a bathroom and threw him some paper towels to clean the blood from his face and body, Quigley said.
“He came in at some point and threw a couple towels on the floor and said, 'Go clean your f--ing self up.' I’ll never forget those words. He had to hold me, I couldn’t even walk.”
After being returned to the interrogation room, Quigley said the beating resumed for a third time.
“[Accused officer Ned] Maodus and his partner Benoit again. The door flew open and they started beating me … punching me in the face, choking me. Something gouged my arm, I believe it was a pen, or something sharp. I was a mess … semi-conscious, covered in blood. I thought this could be the end.”
Quigley testified that after nine hours he was led to a police holding cell in the basement of 53 Division to be watched over by other uniformed officers.
“That’s when I started choking up blood, I couldn’t breathe. I was having a hard time breathing. And then I recall hearing another officer calling out …’Call 911, Call 911!’ It was a uniformed officer. Next thing I know all hell broke lose. Fire was there. And ambulance. I was rushed out of the cell and into an ambulance.”
Quigley testified he was taken to Sunnybrook Hospital where emergency room staff were "horrified" when he told them his injuries were caused by officers while they held him in custody.
The five accused officers have all pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
Lawyers for John Schertzer, Ned Maodus, Steve Correia, Ray Pollard and Joe Miched will get a chance to cross-examine Quigley as early as Tuesday afternoon.
According to the Crown’s opening statement on Monday, the officers concocted a story, fabricated notes of the incident and charged Quigley with assaulting police, suggesting his injuries were the result of officers legally subduing him after he erupted in anger during his detention.
The trial is expected to last seven months.