A new Toronto police dash camera video released allegedly captured two officers mocking a woman with Down syndrome during a traffic stop last year.
The video was meant to be used in court to fight a traffic ticket, but it revealed so much more when the driver refuting the ticket started listening closely.
“I was enraged. I was so angry,” driver Pamela Munoz told Global News.
Munoz said she was driving along The Queensway in Etobicoke with her two daughters in November when Toronto police pulled her over, claiming she drove through a red light.
But while the two officers from 22 Division were writing her a ticket, they can be heard on video allegedly mocking one of Munoz’s daughters, Francie Munoz, who has Down syndrome.
“They were saying things like, ‘It’s a half person,’ ‘disfigured,’ ‘different,’ and then they’d be using a code name ‘artistic’ for ‘different,'” said Pamela.
“Meanwhile they were laughing. It was very upsetting.”
Francie said she felt “disgusted” when she heard what the officers said.
“I am not a half person. I’m a woman,” she said.
“It’s terribly wrong to say those kinds of things and it really hurts when they say that.”
Pamela said she always taught her 29-year-old daughter to trust the police, but now she said she isn’t so sure.
But Francie said she has a thick skin. She’s an advocate for Down syndrome and has posed in educational videos and a poster for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) last year.
“The way we shift how people understand all of us is through positive interaction, education,” said Dr. Yona Lunsky, director of CAMH’s health care access, research and developmental disabilities program.
“Usually it comes out of ignorance, it comes out of not understanding and if we can help people understand how to be sensitive, then we can change attitudes.”
Meanwhile, the Munoz family said it has filed a complaint with Toronto police and the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
“What we want is for the officers to be disciplined. We would love for the police services to have better training,” said Pamela.
Toronto police haven’t released much information about the incident, but the family said Chief Mark Saunders called them Monday morning to apologize.
Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack said the association has spoken to the two officers and that they are taking responsibility for what they said. He said the officers feel regretful and embarrassed.