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Toronto Police Chief responds to Horwath tweet claiming Korchinski-Paquet was killed by officers

Last Updated May 28, 2021 at 6:22 pm EDT

A woman holds a sign reading "Hold Police Accountable" near police officers watching as thousands of people gather for a peaceful demonstration in support of George Floyd and Regis Korchinski-Paquet and protest against racism, injustice and police brutality, in Vancouver, Sunday, May 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Toronto Police Chief James Ramer is reacting to a tweet by NDP leader Andrea Horwath who suggested responding officers are responsible for killing Regis Korchinski-Paquet.

The 29-year-old woman fell to her death from a balcony last May after police were called to her home.

Horwath’s first tweet, published on Thursday, read, “Regis Korchinski-Paquet was loved and she mattered. She deserved help, support, and life. One year after her killing, her family – like D’Andre Campbell’s, Soleiman Faqiri’s and so many others – is still seeking justice. We can and must do so much better.”

In a second tweet, Horwath wrote, “A systemic problem needs a systemic solution. If I were Premier, here’s where we’d start: – Overhaul the SIU to create real accountability – Alternative 1st responders in mental health cases – Invest in things that build BIPOC communities.”

In response, interim police chief Ramer wrote “Ms. Korchinski-Paquet’s death was tragic. Officers responding to 9-1-1 calls from her home were found by independent reviews to have acted in accordance with their duties and the law. To suggest otherwise is divisive and irresponsible.”

Ramer’s tweet follows a similar reaction from Jim Reid, President of the Toronto Police Association.

On Thursday, Reid also took to Twitter in response to Horwath.

“Ms. Korchinski -Paquest was not killed. Justice is not building a false story of lies villainizing police,” he began.

“It’s not questioning accountability when an independent [investment] didn’t fuel a false narrative, but found the truth. If you want to do better, this is not the way.”

Following recent protests across Toronto, Korchinski-Paquet’s family hired a private investigator and turned to a second police watchdog in an effort to understand what happened on May 27, 2020.

Last summer, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) cleared the six Toronto police officers who were in the apartment, saying that while their efforts to de-escalate the situation were unsuccessful, none of them broke the law.

“As I am satisfied that the involved officers acted lawfully throughout their engagement with Ms. Korchinski-Paquet and her family, there are no grounds for proceeding with criminal charges in this case notwithstanding Ms. Korchinski-Paquet’s tragic death,” SIU Director Joseph Martino wrote at the time.

Korchinski-Paquet’s sister said in August 2020 that their family was “disgusted” by the SIU’s findings.

The family then rejected the verdict and later petitioned to have the case reopened.

They allege, among other things, that the SIU has withheld a critical piece of evidence – Korchinski-Paquet’s cellphone, which they said she was using that night.

In Toronto, where protests sparked by Korchinski-Paquet’s death called for the defunding of police, policy change remains largely at the discussion stage.

On Monday, demonstrators continued to call for police reform and defunding during a march marking the anniversary of Korchinski-Paquet’s death.

Tensions flared during the rally, culminating in the arrest of two people.

Police said both were charged with obstructing a peace officer, and one also faced an assault charge.

The NDP says more needs to be done to protect the lives of racialized people, such as Korchinski-Paquet.

“Most of them lived with mental health issues and were in crisis when police arrived,” the NDP said.

“As political leaders, we cannot ignore that the deaths of these Black, Indigenous and racialized people are part of a pattern of police interactions that stretches back years to include Andrew Loku, Josephine Pelletier, Abdirahman Abdi, Sammy Yatim, Greg Ritchie, and far too many others.”

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