Two police officers who were recorded on a dashboard camera video mocking a woman with Down syndrome appeared before a police tribunal Tuesday morning.
Const. Sasa Sljivo and Const. Matthew Saris made a brief appearance at a police tribunal before their case was adjourned to Sept. 19, though they did not say how they were pleading, nor were the Police Services Act charges against them read out.
Sljivo is charged with misconduct related to the use of profane, abusive or insulting language. Saris is charged with misconduct related to the failure to report Sljivo’s comments, which contravened the Ontario Human Rights Code, according to police documents.
Pamela Munoz previously told Global 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 could be heard mocking her daughter Francie on a video obtained by the family through a process known as disclosure.
“They said what they said. Now it’s a matter of seeing what they would get. If anything,” Pamela told reporters outside Toronto police headquarters on Tuesday.
“In our heart, a great outcome would have been for them to leave the Toronto Police Service because it’s shameful.”
Francie told media after the hearing that it had been a “bit awkward.”
“She is a distinct human being,” her friend Jenna said. “We all have emotions and feelings just like anyone else.”
The hearing comes after both officers issued a written apology to the Munoz family last month, in a letter released by the Toronto Police Association.
“Our comments were inappropriate, disrespectful and unprofessional,” the letter read.
“We regret the emotional distress we caused to you, your family and the broader community. You have our assurance that our lapse in judgment will not be repeated.”
The family has stated they would like the officers to make a public apology on camera but Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack said one “would not be forthcoming.”
“It doesn’t seem sincere. That’s why we wanted a public apology,” Pamela said. “It’s really important to us.”
McCormack told Global News Tuesday both officers have accepted “full responsibility as far as this issue is concerned” and that they had faced “justifiable criticism from their peers.”
“What we’re trying to do here is have a learning experience from this incident and we’re moving it forward,” he said.
McCormack said they have also been in contact with the Down Syndrome Association of Ontario.
Pamela said she hoped the case will bring changes to police hiring practices.
“Just hiring decent human beings,” she said.
“No amount of training is going to teach you how to be a decent human being.”
Pamela said that regardless of the outcome of the police tribunal, the family would proceed with filing a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
— With files from The Canadian Press, Nick Westoll and Lama Nicolas