According to Ontario’s police watchdog, the police who were in the apartment when Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old woman, fell to her death from a 24th-floor Toronto balcony three months ago won’t be charged. This is because there are no reasonable grounds to lay charges in connection with the death of the woman. The incident happened in Toronto’s High Park neighborhood on May 27 at around 5:15 pm after the officers were called to the apartment building.
The lady died a few minutes after the officers got into her apartment that night. According to her family, Regis was having mental health issues before she died. Her mother reported that she called police, hoping that the officers would resolve the condition by taking her to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Joseph Martino, the director of the Special Investigations Unit, released his decision on Wednesday afternoon after an investigation, which included the review of scene photos, 911 call recordings, and security camera video from the area.
In a video statement posted to Youtube, Martino stated that on his analysis of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that any of the officers committed a criminal offense. Martino accepted that typically when no charges are laid, the director of the SIU does not personally deliver the results of an investigation. However, Martino indicated that given the “incredible” public interest and attention the case has generated, the SIU recognizes that this is not “an ordinary occasion.” Martino added there is no evidence that Ms. Korchinski-Paquet was pushed off the balcony by the police.
He confirmed that the evidence shows that no other person apart from Ms. Korchinski-Paquet was on the balcony when she scaled over the railing and tried to sidestep along the outer ledge over to her neighbor’s balcony, where she lost her balance and fell. Following her death, protests were calling for changes to the way police officers respond to mental health crises. Martino added that race might have been a factor in the events leading up to the death of the 29-year-old as there was no evidence of “overt” racism in the incident itself or police wrongdoing.
Martino also wrote that the task before him was a narrow one, which was: determining if there were reasonable grounds from the evidence gathered to show that the officers who responded to the apartment committed a criminal offense in connection with her death. James Ramer, Toronto’s interim police chief, stated there is no win in the tragic situation. Ramer said that he offers his deepest sympathies as a young woman who lost her life. He added that it was a profound situation for the officers involved and for the Toronto Police Service.
Ramer indicated that before the incident, officers were dispatched and arrived in minutes after several calls were made to 911 asking for assistance after a domestic commotion involving an assault and the presence of weapons. In helping officers better respond “in this type of situation” in the future, Ramer said that the Toronto Police Service must now conduct its own review into this incident. Ramer also stated that he had been having discussions to have a mental health professional assist in this review, and their report would be submitted to the Toronto Police Services Board upon completion. He confirmed that the service is also planning on expanding its Mobile Crisis Intervention Team (MCIT) Program.
Moreover, he stated that though they tried their best on that day, they would examine everything they can to see if they can do better. In combating anti-Black racism in the force, the body that oversees the Toronto Police Service, considered recommendations in June to immediately bolster mental health services and gather community input on the police budget. The proposals were established after the death of George Floyd from Minneapolis, which was also referenced in Martino’s report.
Family’ totally disgusted’ with SIU report
Korchinski-Paquet’s family indicated that they are “totally disgusted” with the results and blamed the SIU for omitting details relevant to the incident. Korchinski-Paquet sister Renee Korchinski stated that they knew that they were hiding things. She added that they’re not mentioning certain things that happened, and that was not right. As they were noting purported discrepancies between the province’s autopsy and an autopsy commissioned by the family, the family’s lawyer echoed those claims. Lawyer Knia Singh said that the independent autopsy reveals that the hyoid bone and the trachea have injuries and may be interrupted.
Singh said that lack of clarity and detailed accuracy does cause concern for the accuracy of everything that has been placed before them. Singh also said that the legal analysis “falls short,” even if the SIU report was taken at “face value.” He stated that there remains a duty of care and that duty of care opens up the officers to two charges. Former SIU director Howard Morton stated that those two charges include failure to provide necessaries of life and criminal negligence causing death. He stated that failure to give the necessaries of life was caused by detention.He added that Regis was in detention in the hands of the police, and the second charge could be laid as a result of the duty of care on the police officers present.