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Durham detective investigated for tweets against Ontario ombudsman

Ontario Ombudsman André Marin gives a press conference at Queen’s Park in Toronto, August 8, 2013.

Matthew Sherwood/The Globe and Mail

A detective with the Durham Regional Police Service is being investigated as the person behind a fake Twitter account accusing Ontario's Ombudsman of being a member of al-Qaeda.

The account appears to have been created with Detective Constable Scott Dennis's work e-mail address, said Durham Deputy Chief Paul Martin.

The "joemayo12" Twitter account, which has now been deleted, was sending messages shortly before the Ombudsman's planned announcement on Thursday to review provincial guidelines and training given to police officers. The review follows the death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim who was killed by Toronto police after he pulled out a knife on a streetcar.

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"Why don't you stick your big french nose up your ass instead of business [where] it doesn't belong," the user tweeted at the ombudsman, André Marin.

Mr. Marin said the tweets are "deplorable," but he doesn't believe they were related to his investigation.

"It's par for the course. What we saw on Twitter today is not par for the course. It's beyond what I've normally seen, but it happens," said Mr. Marin. "Emotions run high when you talk about police oversight," he added.

Mr. Marin accused the detective publicly on Twitter, but refused to say how he determined his identity.

"These are pretty serious allegations and to hide behind an anonymous account to propagate hate tweets is just not right," he said.

Det. Constable Dennis, who works in the major crime branch, could not be reached for comment. He is on holiday until Monday, according to his voicemail. Deputy Chief Martin said investigators will need to confirm who opened the account and who typed the tweets. "This is going to be the subject of our investigation – whether or not this account was actually opened by our officer and, if so, did he send these messages?" said Deputy Chief Martin.

Penalties could range from a reprimand to outright dismissal, depending on whether the matter is considered a non-serious or serious breach of the Police Services Act, said the deputy chief.

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The joemayo12 account also tweeted similar messages to Toronto City Councillor Janet Davis who has said that Mr. Yatim did not have to die because he was "cornered on an empty streetcar." Joemayo12 retaliated by saying that Ms. Davis should keep her "idiotic thoughts" to herself.

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