By Lincoln DePradine
Police “incompetence’’ in carrying out a takedown of African-Canadian Jamal Francique, including a bullet to his head, leaves room for potential murder and manslaughter charges against the cops, says lawyer Knia Singh.
“This ill-fated takedown was done at nighttime with six undercover officers in plainclothes in unmarked vehicles,’’ Singh told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday. “The unfortunate result was Jamal lost his life due to the incompetence of the officers and their ill-fated plan.’’
Francique, 28, was shot by Peel police in Mississauga on January 7, 2020, leading to an investigation into the incident by the provincial Special Investigations Unit (SIU).
The cop, who fired the fatal bullets, has not been publicly identified and is simply referred to as the “subject officer’’.
In a report of the investigation, SIU director Joseph Martino said he found no reasonable grounds to criminally charge the officer who shot Francique.
Following the shooting, said the report, Francique was discovered in the driver’s seat of his vehicle, in “obvious and acute medical distress’’, suffering from a gunshot wound to the left side of his head.
Francique remained on life support for three days before he was subsequently pronounced dead in the hospital.
According to Martino, the subject officer was “engaged in the lawful execution of his duties’’ when he took part in the attempted arrest of Francique.
The subject officer, in his interview with SIU investigators, said he believed there was an “imminent risk to his life’’ when he discharged his firearm.
Singh, counsel for the Francique family, has complained about a “series of unanswered questions’’ and “discrepancies’’ in the SIU’s report, saying it contains “contradictory information’’ and many “flaws’’ and “holes’’.
“A reopening of this SIU investigation is a must. It’s a must to maintain confidence in the justice system, confidence in policing and confidence in the oversight of the SIU,’’ Singh said.
The SIU, he claims, has not produced “an accurate, reliable report’’. He pointed to one of the “discrepancies’’ where, on page 4, the report states that Francique “was shot in the face; and then on page 11’’, said Singh, it says “Jamal was shot in the back of his head. These discrepancies, inaccuracies, are of serious concern’’.
Singh, relating the background to the incident between Francique and Peel police, said “Jamal Francique was under investigation for three days for drug activity, and that investigation turned up zero results. At the end of the investigation, the drug squad from Peel police decided to orchestrate a high-risk takedown of Jamal Francique on the day of January 7, 2020.’’
“Our evidence’’ of the incident, Singh said, shows that there was a fourth bullet fired that “hit Mr Francique in the back of his head and ended lodging in the right temple of Mr Francique’’.
Many aspects of the case “require public scrutiny, legal scrutiny and scrutiny from our provincial government, who is tasked with setting out the legislation for the SIU’s civilian oversight,’’ Singh said.
“A reopening if this investigation must take place immediately, so that the public can receive answers and the SIU can make the correct decision based on all of the evidence available’’.
There is a “disturbing trend” emerging that shows the SIU favours clearing officers over charging them, Singh said. “The trend must stop,’’ he demanded.