The lawyer for the family of 29-year-old Regis Korchinski-Paquet, who fell to her death following an interaction with Toronto police, says they will not be interviewing with Ontario’s police watchdog over concerns of information being leaked to the public.
Knia Singh told Global News on Wednesday that due to circumstances in addition to a Toronto Sun report published Tuesday, “counsel doesn’t feel comfortable having them to an interview when police may be leaking information to the public.”
The Toronto newspaper cited previously unreported information surrounding the interaction between Korchinski-Paquet and officers in the High Park Avenue apartment leading up to her fatal fall from the 24th floor balcony on May 27.
“I have very strong concerns over the article written by The Toronto Sun and I have very strong concerns about where that information is coming from, because nobody aside for Regis and the police officers were in the apartment and only they know what actually happened,” said Singh.
“The family is still in the grieving process so it is very difficult for them,” he said, adding the family has no further comment on the article in question.
It is not clear when, or if, the family will interview with the SIU.
“It will be on hold until we can figure out why this information is getting out there, speak with the SIU and evaluate the fairness of the process …,” Singh said. “So this is on hold until we can figure out what’s going wrong, how to fix it and ensure this is a transparent fair, valid, unbiased investigation.”
The SIU said interviews have been completed with a subject officer, five witness officers and four civilian witnesses. The agency said it had also procured surveillance video.
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, the agency said they are aware of the reasons as to why the family cancelled their scheduled interviews.
“The SIU respects the family’s decision and looks forward to receiving their accounts at the earliest opportunity,” the statement read.
When asked what the family and counsel would like to see from the SIU, Singh said he would want them to provide them with all the information they have, allow them to interview the officers who are subject and witness officers and allow them access to the 911 calls and surveillance video.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders, Mayor John Tory, the Toronto Police Services Board and police union officials echoed the calls for a transparent and complete investigation by the SIU, and for the results to be shared as soon as possible.
Officials also asked for the public to allow for the investigation to play out in response to alleged circulation of misinformation about the incident.
Global News reached out to Toronto police about the allegations made by Singh in regards to a possible leak of information. Toronto Police spokesperson Meaghan Gray said TPS “does not comment on the validity of information from unnamed sources.
“We can say that any unauthorized release of information is taken seriously by the TPS and the matter is being investigated by Professional Standards.”
The SIU said the director wrote to TPS on Wednesday “to ask that it takes immediate steps to prevent further releases of information about what occurred inside the apartment.”
Meanwhile, thousands of residents attended a peaceful protest march in Toronto on Saturday in honour of Korchinski-Paquet. Attendees also called for action to address the wider issues of anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism.
Officers were called to Korchinski-Paquet’s apartment on High Park Avenue Wednesday afternoon after Singh said Korchinski-Paquet’s mother, Claudette Beals-Clayton, called 911 because her daughter was in distress over a family conflict and the call was made out of “safety” and “concern.”
Singh said the two, along with her brother, met police in the hallway leading to their 24th-floor apartment. He said she pleaded with officers to take Korchinski-Paquet to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) for mental health support. Family members said she was also having an epileptic seizure.
When Korchinski-Paquet told officers she needed to use the bathroom, Singh said officers followed her into the apartment unit and that when her brother tried to get her, he was stopped. The family was not in the unit while Korchinski-Paquet and police were in the apartment unit.
After a couple of minutes, Singh said Korchinski-Paquet called out saying, “Mom, help. Mom, help. Mom, help.” A short time later, he said the family found out Korchinski-Paquet was on the ground.
“I asked the police yesterday if they could take my daughter to CAMH and my daughter ended up dead, so I don’t understand,” Beals-Clayton told reporters on Thursday.
The SIU investigates the conduct of the responding officers in instances where there has been death, serious injury or alleged sexual assault.
—With files from Nick Westoll and Kamil Karamali
June 3, 2020 Update: SIU Investigation into Woman’s Fatal Fall from Toronto Balcony https://t.co/mPRBrw9sTS
— SIU (@SIUOntario) June 3, 2020
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