Here is the latest update on the Regis Korchinski-Paquet case
It's been five days since 29-year-old Toronto resident Regis Korchinski-Paquet fell from a 24th-floor balcony to her death during an encounter with police in the city's High Park neighbourhood, and the woman's family — as well as people across the country — still have questions.
Massive gathering at Christie Pitts. Rally for justice in support of Regis Korchinski-Paquet organized by Not Another Black Life. Demonstrators preparing to march to Queen’s Park protesting anti-black and anti-indigenous racism. pic.twitter.com/LxwOvDS9Li— Erica Natividad (@ericaracheltv) May 30, 2020
Toronto Police have been fairly mum on the subject, given that the case is currently being investigated by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), a provincial police watchdog agency.
But given that people across the country are now marching on behalf of Korchinski-Paquet and also of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis on May 25 after officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes, the public wants answers now.
The SIU provided an official update about its investigation on Monday, in which it said that it had interviewed six officers from the scene — one of which is referred to as "the subject officer" and five of which are called "witness officers" — along with four additional people who witnessed the incident.
Video footage from the apartment building's security cameras has also been acquired and reviewed, and the unit will be speaking with the deceased's family members and their legal representation sometime this week.
UPDATE on the investigation into the death of #RegisKorchinskiPaquet: "SIU investigators have interviewed the subject officer, all five witness officers and four civilian witnesses. Interviews with family members are expected to take place this week." https://t.co/Q4JvEzS424— Wendy Gillis (@wendygillis) June 1, 2020
"The SIU appreciates the public interest in this case and is doing what it can to get answers to the public as quickly as possible while ensuring that the integrity of the investigation is not compromised," the agency said in the statement, adding that no specifics will be released while the investigation is ongoing.
"We ask for the public's continued patience, and to avoid making any premature conclusions."
Korchinski-Paquet's mother, who was on the scene when her daughter died, initially said that the young woman had been "shoved" from the balcony and "killed" by Toronto police, sparking outrage and demands for transparency in the case across Toronto and beyond.
But, the family's lawyer later clarified to press that the accusations were being retracted, though they did still think that if police had handled the situation differently, the young woman might still be alive.
"This was not witnessed by the mother, however at the time of the statement this is what the mother believed," lawyer Knia Singh said of the claims against police at a media briefing last week. "How can a call for assistance turn into a loss of life?"
#NEW: #RegisKorchinskiPaquet's family's lawyer @masterknia now says family is no longer saying that police 'pushed' Regis from the balcony. "When the mother made the statement, that was her belief at the time."— Tyler Walker (@tylerwalker94) May 30, 2020
BACKGROUND: https://t.co/auZTAIqNI8 pic.twitter.com/VneWQr43l6
Amid public attention and consequent civil demonstrations, Toronto Chief of Police Mark Saunders has called for the SIU investigation to be sped up, and is also expediting the process of getting body-worn cameras onto all of the city's officers for clarity in future cases.
In the meantime, he has asked the public to "wait for all facts" to emerge and warned about potential misinformation surrounding the case. He also thanked those who took to the city's streets on Saturday to rally for Korchinski-Paquet for doing so peacefully and safely.
Regis Korchinski-Paquet - her mother called the police to take her to a medical centre. She went to the bathroom, the family heard her crying for help, and the police said that she "had fallen off the balcony"— minor setback (@alexpanuta) June 1, 2020
She matters and her name will not be forgotten pic.twitter.com/v42I7G41oB
Saunders told press at a briefing that there had been three 911 calls to authorities about an alleged domestic dispute in the apartment unit, apparently involving weapons — a detail that meant a Mental Health Crisis Intervention Team could not be dispatched.
Korchinski-Paquet's mother had called police Wednesday evening in the hopes that they could come calm the young woman, who was having a mental health crisis, and take her to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
While speaking to police at the entrance to the apartment, Korchinski-Paquet asked to be excused to go to the washroom. Police followed her into the unit, but prevented her brother from attending to her.
According to her mother, there was some commotion in the unit and the young woman yelled "Mom, help!" three times before officers emerged, telling her family that she was in a neighbouring unit.
When they discovered that she was not next door, the police allegedly confirmed that she had fallen, which a source told the Toronto Sun seemed to have happened because "she slipped while trying to scale one balcony to another."
Whether you're in America or here at home in Canada I need you to hear this:— Jagmeet Singh (@theJagmeetSingh) May 29, 2020
Black lives matter.
Indigenous lives matter.
And we must demand it.
George Floyd 💔
Regis Korchinski-Paquet 💔
Stewart Kevin Andrews 💔
And in memory of too many others.
The young Afro-Indigenous woman's death marks yet another time in recent memory where a person of colour has died either in police custody or during an incident involving authorities, which is the basis for the anti-racism and anti-police brutality demonstrations taking place across North America right now.
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