By Lincoln DePradine
An impasse continues between the family of a Black woman and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) on whether Toronto police had any role in her death.
“We anticipate doing an interview with the SIU but there are still a lot of other things to be done,’’ Knia Singh, a lawyer for the family of the late Regis Korchinski-Paquet, said in a Caribbean Camera interview.
Korchinski-Paquet, 29, lost her life on a Wednesday afternoon, May 27 last, after police were called to a High Park Avenue building in Toronto.
Relatives said Korchinski-Paquet was in distress over a family conflict and calls were made out of “safety” and “concern.” Her mother said she wanted police to take her daughter to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health for help.
After police arrived, they were met in the hallway of the building. Korchinski-Paquet and the cops left for the family unit on the 24th floor of the apartment building after Korchinski-Paquet told them she needed to use the bathroom.
The exact circumstances inside the unit, with Korchinski-Paquet falling to her death, have raised questions in the public and led to the opening of a probe by the SIU.
Her death has been the focus of peaceful protests in Toronto by thousands demanding action to address anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism.
“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,’’ Singh said.
So far, according to the SIU, its probe has included interviews with several people, including the officers who interacted with Korchinski-Paquet on the day she died.
Korchinski-Paquet’s family, on advice from their lawyer, has not agreed as yet to speak to SIU officials.
Attorney Singh and the family are upset at what they believe is a leak of information on the Korchinski-Paquet incident to The Toronto Sun, describing it as an attempt at “trying the case in the paper’’.
“It was very disappointing,’’ Singh told The Caribbean Camera. “I was taken aback by how detailed the article was. It only could be from a police officer because they were the only ones in the apartment with her. It seems that they were trying to take responsibility on the very low end but dismiss any other allegations at the same time.’’
Singh has sent letters of complaints about the “leak’’ to the SIU and Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders.
He said the Korchinski-Paquet’s family cannot go into interviews feeling that the SIU investigation is compromised and being tampered with.
The family, said Singh, wants a “transparent, fair, valid and unbiased investigation’’, and an interview with the SIU remains on hold.
A private funeral has been held for Korchinski-Paquet, with a public memorial scheduled for July 27.
“We are in the stages of planning a public memorial,’’ said Singh. “We don’t know exactly where it’s going to be held at this moment but we are in the process of planning the route. There are places that Regis really liked, so her family would like to have a procession that goes along that route.’’