The SIU report on what happened to Regis Korchinski-Paquet has been delayed
Immediate family members of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, who died tragically during an interaction with Toronto Police last Wednesday, will not be speaking with investigators this week as planned due a local newspaper's publication of apparent leaked case details.
Korchinski-Paquet's name first hit headlines on Thursday morning after Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) announced a probe into her death.
The police watchdog agency revealed at the time that a 29-year-old woman had fallen from a balcony on the 24th floor of a High Park apartment building while officers were inside her unit. Korchinski-Paquet was pronounced dead at the scene.
listen to the family. listen to the story now. https://t.co/Nl0Qt1nGAH— Mae Smith (@okay_mae) May 29, 2020
Not long after the incident, which took place around 5:15 p.m. on May 27, the young woman's brother, cousin and mother all alleged on social media that she had been "pushed" from the balcony and "killed by" police.
The family's lawyer, Knia Singh, later clarified during a press conference that these accusations were being retracted. Korchinski-Paquet's mother and brother do not believe she was pushed, but still believe that police mishandled the situation.
"The family wants answers to what happened. How can a call for assistance turn into a loss of life?" said Singh, who had revealed that the young woman's mother, Claudette Beals-Clayton, had initially called police to help her daughter through a mental health crisis.
"The family is extremely concerned that in recent times, people with mental health distress issues across North America are ending up dead after interactions with police."
regis korchinski-paquet should still be alive, and her family needs our support to hold toronto police accountable for their actions. please give whatever you can #JusticeForRegis https://t.co/qMeYvnUGZ1— negro frolics (@DesmondCole) May 29, 2020
SIU investigators issued a new statement on Monday indicating that one "subject officer," four civilian witnesses and five witness police officers had been interviewed regarding the circumstances of Korchinski-Paquet's death.
"Interviews with family members are expected to take place this week, as per the availability of the family’'s counsel," read the statement.
Singh, however, told CP24 Wednesday morning that the family would not be speaking to investigators this week after all.
He says the grieving family made its decision in response to apparent details regarding Korchinski-Paquet's last moments being published in The Toronto Sun.
Knia Singh says the leak of information is an "attempt to shape the narrative." He also claims the SIU has a "history of covering things up."— NEWSTALK1010 (@NEWSTALK1010) June 3, 2020
Citing unidentified "sources," The Sun reported on Tuesday that Korchinski-Paquet "died while trying unsuccessfully to vault to a neighbouring balcony shortly after she jammed the door with an appliance."
The source is said to have told the newspaper that Korchinski-Paquet prevented officers from accessing the balcony with an air conditioning unit or TV, and that a police officer raced to the neighbouring balcony once he saw her hand on the railing but that he was too late to save her from falling.
None of these details have been confirmed by Toronto Police, who are barred from publicly providing information about an active SIU information.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders has nonetheless been asking residents to reserve judgment until all the facts are released, warning of potential "toxic misinformation" and "lies" surrounding the case on social media.
Regardless of how she died, Korchinski-Paquet's death has been held up by protesters as another example of police violence against Black and Indigenous citizens.
Thousands took to the streets of Toronto for a peaceful march and rally on Saturday to demand #JusticeForRegis and to denounce all anti-Black racism in the wake of 46-year-old George Floyd's widely-publicized murder by a Minneapolis police officer.
"The movement doesn’t stop here, but it started yesterday with your support," wrote the group organizing Saturday's protest, Not Another Black Life, following the event.
"We are tired of seeing our people die, we are tired of seeing our people getting abused by the system. We are tired. But we will not stop fighting for our people, we hope you continue to fight for yours too."
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