(August 27, 2020) According to a statement it released in solidarity with the family, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) is calling for a “fair, independent and open investigation that answers questions about the circumstances surrounding Regis Korchinski-Paquet’s death, including the police’s role and conduct at the scene.”
Yesterday, Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit released its report clearing police officers in the death of Korchinski-Paquet saying, “there were no reasonable grounds to believe any of the five officers who were in or around the apartment had committed a criminal offence.
“There were allegations in the wake of Ms. Korchinski-Paquet’s death that she was pushed off the balcony by the police. The evidence establishes that this did not occur,” said SIU director Joseph Martino in his statement about the report.
“Instead, the evidence indicates that no one other than Ms. Korchinski-Paquet was on the balcony when she scaled over the railing and attempted to sidestep along the outer ledge over to her neighbour’s balcony, lost her balance and fell.”
Korchinski-Paquet’s family believe the SIU has not been fully transparent with the family.
LEAF says Paquet’s death occurred in the context of historical and ongoing police violence against the Black community in Canada and referred to A 2018 Ontario Human Rights Commission report which found that, in Toronto, a Black person is 11 times more likely than a white person to be involved in aa police use of force case that led to a civilian death.
“Black people are also disproportionately represented in Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU)’s use of force cases where mental health issues have been identified,” they say.
In addition to independent and open investigation, LEAF is calling for the City of Toronto to direct more funding to mental health resources that are led by, and geared toward, the Black community; and the federal government to implement the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 2017 recommendation to establish a nation-wide mandatory policy on the collection of data disaggregated by race, colour, ethnic background, national origin, and other identities, to be able to adequately track, analyze and address racial disparities in Canada.
Such a policy would help mitigate the “lack of race-based data and research that could inform prevention, intervention and strategies to protect the human rights of African Canadians,” says to the UN Report.
According to a CBC report, “the family’s lawyer, Knia Singh, said he found Martino’s report “disappointing” and missing key elements. He said that he believes police had a duty of care to Korchinski-Paquet and should have intervened when she was on the balcony.”