The Toronto police homicide squad has been called in to investigate after a man was found lying on a field behind a Parkdale highrise apartment earlier this week, but residents tell Global News it was two to three hours before officers arrived to the scene.
At around 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, police said a 911 call came in for an assault in progress at 103 West Lodge Ave. Det. Tim Gallant confirmed to Global News that Toronto paramedics attended and took the man, who had been beaten, to St Joseph’s Health Centre where he was pronounced dead.
Gallant said paramedics called police about 40 minutes later to tell officers he had died. He said investigators eventually attended the hospital before later attending the scene with paramedics who showed them where the victim was found.
Gallant said it’s not uncommon for paramedics to sometimes beat uniformed officers to a scene, but he would not say when uniformed officers eventually arrived at West Lodge Avenue.
A police source told Global News it wasn’t until around 10 p.m. before a cruiser was even dispatched to the call — 90 minutes after the original 911 report. That cruiser would have gone directly to the hospital.
Superintendent Heinz Kuck, the unit commander of 11 Division, said he can’t comment on the police response. However, he said Wednesday night was a busy night with a robbery and sexual assault in progress happening at the same time.
The 911 call on West Lodge Avenue came in as an assault in progress and given staffing challenges, Kuck said it wasn’t the highest priority.
“At the time of the offence, (it was) an assault in progress — all cars were assigned,” he said.
“Any lag time was because of the sheer volume of radio calls that officers were assigned to in other locations.”
Kuck said if the homicide investigation shows there was a lag time, it would trigger him to conduct an operational investigation.
Toronto Police Association (TPA) President Mike McCormack said he is looking at what happened regarding the slow police response on Wednesday night and called it very concerning.
The union launched a “Stop the Toronto Police Cuts” campaign in January targeting the mayor and senior police service officials. The TPA said they’re to blame for a “crisis” in staffing and response times amid a large modernization initiative.
In August, an agreement was struck between the union, Toronto police and the Toronto Police Services Board to hire 80 new officers despite a hiring freeze, and review staffing levels for communications operators and divisional staff.
As a part of the modernization plan, it calls for fewer policing divisions and other changes designed to make the force more efficient.
Meanwhile, Gallant said police are still trying to positively identify the victim of the homicide, adding they are having trouble finding next of kin.
Officers said they’re looking for a male suspect who is approximately six feet tall and has a medium build. He was described as being unshaven and having short, dark curly hair.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 416-808-7400 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477.
— With files from Nick Westoll