Toronto police union says charges cops pushed woman from balcony are “unfounded”

According to reports, as many as eight officers responded to a call from Regis Korchinski-Paquet's mother to what police describe as an “assault”



The Toronto Police Association (TPA) has released a statement on the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet saying that allegations that police officers pushed the 29-year-old woman from a balcony to her death are “unfounded,” being made “in the absence of evidence or fact” and  “perpetuate a false narrative that the police are the enemy.”

The statement, signed by TPA president Mike McCormack and the union’s board of directors, goes on to say that the union is “deeply disturbed” and “disappointment” about public statements made by city councillors on the issue. Police chief Mark Saunders and Mayor John Tory have also released statements on the incident, but are not mentioned in the TPA release.

Saunders’s statement says that police “want the facts as much as anyone” and encourages witnesses to come forward. He says police are “fully cooperating” with the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the provincial unit which investigates incidents involving serious injury or death.

According to reports, as many as eight police officers responded to a call from Korchinski-Paquet’s mother to what the TPA release describes as an “assault” at an apartment building on High Park Avenue at around 5 pm on Wednesday, May 27. 

The mother said at a press conference held yesterday that she called police to take her daughter to CAMH and that the next thing she knew her daughter was dead. According to reports circulating on social media, Korchinski-Paquet, who reportedly suffers from epilepsy, was allegedly “pushed” from a balcony on the 24th floor of the building.

Police who were in her apartment reportedly left shortly after the incident and were replaced by other officers at the scene. 

The SIU was called to the scene and issued a statement on Thursday, its second on the matter, saying that a post-mortem would be conducted, but the results of that won’t be made public until its investigation is over. The statement says that the SIU is “aware of allegations made by certain family members of the deceased and will be looking to speak to anyone with information about these allegations.”

An initial statement released by the SIU on Wednesday describes police responding to a “domestic incident.” The SIU says that four investigators, including two forensic investigators, have been assigned to the case.

The unit is restricted by law from making information available until its investigation is completed, but the TPA says that it’s “imperative” the SIU now release information to the public as it becomes available. “Unfounded rhetoric is damaging to the community and the police.”

The TPA describes comments posted on social media about Korchinski-Paquet’s death as “opportunistic and sensationalizes this tragic event.” The TPA says the allegations “incite fear and mistrust within the community and the police.”

The Toronto Police Services Board also issued a statement this afternoon calling on the SIU to “provide regular public updates regarding the status of this investigation as it unfolds, as this will bring additional transparency to the process and enhance public confidence.” 

“Everyone wants, and deserves, answers in this case,” the statement says.

The statement notes that the chief is required by the Police Services Act to conduct what’s called a section 11 investigation into the incident once the SIU has concluded its probe to determine if there were any systemic or policy issues involved in the police’s handling of the incident.

The Board’s statement says that “should this review provide specific or systemic recommendations, the Board will review them.” 

A protest over Korchinski-Paquet’s death has been planned for Saturday at 2 pm at Christie Pits. TPA president McCormack was not immediately available for comment. Go here for an update on this story.

@nowtoronto

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