Kitchener – Two men have been charged with assault in connection with an incident at a Milton restaurant in November.
On 10 November, Waterloo Regional Police were called to report a disturbance at restaurants on King Street East and Fairway Road South.
Two Kitchener men, a 53-year-old and a 54-year-old, have been charged with assault. The 54-year-old was also accused of outright intimidation.
The youths were arrested and released on Saturday. He is to appear in court on February 22.
Police spokeswoman Cheri Greenow said the allegations were made after an extensive investigation. “It was a very complex investigation that required multiple investigative follow-up, including multiple witness interviews and video analysis, to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to make criminal charges.”
On the evening of November 10, Milton’s incident was captured on video and shared widely online in the days that followed. The video shows a Kitchener man, 32-year-old Justin Leckie, and his service dog, AP, being forcefully removed from the restaurant.
In the video, two men were seen pushing her, bringing her to the floor and sometimes grabbing Leckie’s legs as she pulled him out. One of the men was heard threatening to kick Leckie in the head. There were voices off the camera telling the men to stop, that they were hurting her.
Attempts were made to speak to management at the Milton restaurant about the incident and related allegations, but were not immediately successful.
In a statement shared with The Record, Leckie’s mother, Shelley DelaFrenier, said the news of the allegations brought a “sense of relief” to the family.
“Justin and our family have had a difficult time awaiting the outcome of the investigation. Justin feels a measure of justice has been served and hopes it will help others serve animals by raising awareness of the Ontario Disabilities Act. Will help,” she wrote.
“Justin has received tremendous support from the community, and especially from local restaurants, who arrived to welcome him and his service dog Api to their restaurant,” she wrote, thanking police for “their diligence in this investigation.” .
After the video was shared online, some local restaurants took to their social media pages to invite and eat Leckie for free, encouraging her to bring her service dog with them.
An online fundraiser was also set up shortly after the incident, “intended to help that friend in our community who deserved exceptional restaurant service with their dog,” reads the description. The GoFundMe page raised over $3,800.
The video captured in Milton sparked outrage in the community and the restaurant was boycotted. In the days that followed, people gathered on the sidewalk on King Street with signs warning people not to support the restaurant.
The reaction to the video was shared so widely online, a Milton’s Family restaurant in Albany, Indiana, wrote on its Facebook page to clarify that their business was not involved after receiving angry comments about the incident. .