A Toronto judge had harsh words for two police detectives on Tuesday as she acquitted three brothers and their father of assaulting the officers.
Ontario Court Judge Carol Brewer said the two officers, detective-constables Stuart Blower and Tamari Hewko, acted "unlawfully" and gave testimony that fostered "serious concerns" about their credibility.
"Their entire interaction with the Khans involved a course of unlawful behaviour, which culminated in the use of excessive force," the judge wrote in her 19-page decision.
Dalair Khan, Deen Khan, Yazdaan Khan and their father, Aleem Khan, had been charged with various counts of assault over a May 12, 2009, incident that occurred at their then-home in North York.
On that day, the police officers came to their apartment building to investigate an unrelated break-and-enter in another suite. The plainclothes detectives pulled their unmarked car into Deen Khan's parking spot.
Seeing them, Deen Khan approached the officers.
"I said 'Excuse me, that's my parking spot.' And he said, 'I'm a cop. What are you going to do?' " Deen Khan told CBC News on Tuesday.
The officers walked away. Khan then pulled his vehicle in behind the police car, blocking it into the parking spot.
A little later, inside their apartment unit, the family heard banging on the door.
"He was very angry, and he said, 'I'm going to smack you if you don't move your car,' " Aleem Khan said of Blower.
A fight broke out between the four family members and the two detectives. Testimony at trial recounted punches being thrown by both sides, shoving and yelling. The court heard two 911 calls, with the judge determining that a voice on one of them was Det.-Const. Hewko using the F-word at least twice.
Judge deems it self-defence
Throughout, the officers said they were assaulted. They testified they went to the door of the family's suite, politely asked them to move the car and were pushed and provoked into the melee.
The fisticuffs got so bad that at one point, Yazdaan Khan smacked Blower in the back of the head with a dumbbell.
But the judge ruled that was a legitimate act of self-defence because Blower was choking Yazdaan Khan's brother, whose face had turned blue.
The judge said that at another moment, Blower was unlawfully punching Aleem Khan in the face, which justified his son Deen using force against the officer to try to intervene.
In acquitting all four family members, the judge cited significant concerns with the detectives' testimony.
Blower's testimony was "illogical," "does not appear to be rational," had "internal inconsistencies" and "provided an erroneous version of events," Brewer wrote. Portions of Heyko's testimony were marred by "implausibility" and "discrepancies" with other evidence, the judge ruled.
The judge was particularly concerned that the two officers prepared their notes "while sitting beside each other, over the course of several hours."
That and "the similarity of the contents of the notes raise serious concerns with respect to collaboration and fabrication of their contents," she wrote.
The family said they'll have a hard time trusting police again. They say they also burned through a lot of money on their legal defence.
"We had enough money to buy a house. All that money's gone," Deen Khan said.
The two officers are still on the job. The Toronto Police Service said Tuesday it's reviewing the judge's decision but would not comment because there could be an appeal.