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RCMP apologize to Amber Tuccaro’s family; say investigation into her death ‘not best work’

WATCH: Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki, commanding officer of Alberta RCMP, issued an apology to the family of Amber Tuccaro for how the investigation into the Indigenous woman's homicide was handled.

The commanding officer of the RCMP in Alberta has apologized to the family of an Indigenous woman who disappeared nine years ago and whose killer has never been found.

“Our Leduc detachment’s initial missing persons investigation was not our best work,” Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said Thursday.

“The early days of our investigation… required a better sense of urgency and care,” he said.

“On behalf of the RCMP, I am truly sorry.”

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Watch below: Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki’s apology

RCMP investigation into Amber Tuccaro’s disappearance required ‘better sense of urgency’
RCMP investigation into Amber Tuccaro’s disappearance required ‘better sense of urgency’

The family of Amber Tuccaro rejected the apology.

“As of right now, the apology doesn’t mean anything to me,” said her mother, Tootsie Tuccaro. “They did it because they were told to.”

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She reacted angrily when Zablocki left the news conference early, pleading a pressing meeting.

“An apology needs to be heartfelt,” she said.

“They’re the ones apologizing, yet they can just get up and walk away.”

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Amber Tuccaro was 20 years old in August 2010 when she flew to Edmonton from her home in Fort McMurray, Alta., and booked into a hotel near the airport with her 14-month-old son and a female friend. The next day, police said, she caught a ride into Edmonton with an unknown man.

The woman from the Mikisew Cree Nation was never seen alive again. Her skull was found in the bush two years later.

READ MORE: Remains of Amber Alyssa Tuccaro located

In 2012, police released a cellphone recording between Tuccaro and the man who gave her a ride.

“You’d better not be taking me anywhere I don’t want to go,” Tuccaro can be heard telling the man.

Watch below: The RCMP deputy commissioner apologized for how Leduc RCMP initially handled Amber Tuccaro’s missing persons file. But, as Fletcher Kent reports, the family didn’t accept it.

Amber Tuccaro’s family doesn’t accept RCMP apology
Amber Tuccaro’s family doesn’t accept RCMP apology

An independent federal review released in 2018 found that the Leduc detachment’s investigation of her disappearance was deficient.

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Her brother, Paul Tuccaro, testified for two hours to its lackadaisical nature at the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls during its Edmonton hearings.

READ MORE: RCMP acknowledge first stages of Amber Tuccaro investigation were mishandled

Watch below: Paul Tuccaro’s message for every family out there living with a missing loved one. 

‘Don’t think you’re alone’: Amber Tuccaro’s brother’s message to families with missing loved ones
‘Don’t think you’re alone’: Amber Tuccaro’s brother’s message to families with missing loved ones

RCMP downplayed the family’s concerns and wouldn’t list her immediately as a missing person. Then her name was wrongly removed from the list for a month.

He said Mounties later told his family that investigators had the cellphone tape for a year before releasing it.

The family was passed from officer to officer and RCMP didn’t keep in touch after his sister’s remains were found.

Her belongings sat in a hotel room for months before police took them and eventually threw them away.

Tootsie Tuccaro said she would have liked to have had them back — quite apart from their value as evidence.

After the apology, Tuccaro’s family unveiled a new poster urging anyone with information on the case to contact police.

“Today I don’t know how I feel. I really don’t,” Tuccaro’s mother said. “I’m angry. I’m hurt. I’m just messed up. But… like Amber always told me, ‘You got this, mama,’ and I do.”

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Watch below: Amber Tuccaro’s family unveils new poster, calling for answers in the woman’s death

Amber Tuccaro’s family unveils new poster, renews calls for answers in her homicide
Amber Tuccaro’s family unveils new poster, renews calls for answers in her homicide

The family’s lawyer, Patrick Stratton, said the family is seeking compensation.

View photos in the gallery below:

People show up to support Amber Tuccaro's family.
People show up to support Amber Tuccaro's family. Dave Carels, Global News
People show up to support Amber Tuccaro's family.
People show up to support Amber Tuccaro's family. Dave Carels, Global News
People show up to support Amber Tuccaro's family.
People show up to support Amber Tuccaro's family. Dave Carels, Global News
People show up to support Amber Tuccaro's family.
People show up to support Amber Tuccaro's family. Dave Carels, Global News
People show up to support Amber Tuccaro's family.
People show up to support Amber Tuccaro's family. Dave Carels, Global News
RCMP Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki apologizes to Amber Tuccaro’s family saying the missing person’s investigation “was not our best work” and “required better urgency of care.” “On behalf of the RCMP, I am truly sorry.”
RCMP Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki apologizes to Amber Tuccaro’s family saying the missing person’s investigation “was not our best work” and “required better urgency of care.” “On behalf of the RCMP, I am truly sorry.” Dave Carels, Global News
RCMP Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki apologizes to Amber Tuccaro’s family saying the missing person’s investigation “was not our best work” and “required better urgency of care.” “On behalf of the RCMP, I am truly sorry.”
RCMP Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki apologizes to Amber Tuccaro’s family saying the missing person’s investigation “was not our best work” and “required better urgency of care.” “On behalf of the RCMP, I am truly sorry.” Dave Carels, Global News
RCMP Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki apologizes to Amber Tuccaro’s family saying the missing person’s investigation “was not our best work” and “required better urgency of care.” “On behalf of the RCMP, I am truly sorry.”
RCMP Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki apologizes to Amber Tuccaro’s family saying the missing person’s investigation “was not our best work” and “required better urgency of care.” “On behalf of the RCMP, I am truly sorry.” Dave Carels, Global News
Amber Tuccaro's family and supporters gather after the RCMP issued a public apology Thursday, July 25, 2019 in Edmonton for the way the force handled Tuccaro's case.
Amber Tuccaro's family and supporters gather after the RCMP issued a public apology Thursday, July 25, 2019 in Edmonton for the way the force handled Tuccaro's case. Dave Carels, Global News
Amber Tuccaro's family and supporters gather after the RCMP issued a public apology Thursday, July 25, 2019 in Edmonton for the way the force handled Tuccaro's case.
Amber Tuccaro's family and supporters gather after the RCMP issued a public apology Thursday, July 25, 2019 in Edmonton for the way the force handled Tuccaro's case. Dave Carels, Global News
Amber Tuccaro's family and supporters gather after the RCMP issued a public apology Thursday, July 25, 2019 in Edmonton for the way the force handled Tuccaro's case.
Amber Tuccaro's family and supporters gather after the RCMP issued a public apology Thursday, July 25, 2019 in Edmonton for the way the force handled Tuccaro's case. Dave Carels, Global News

Zablocki said the force has brought in procedures to ensure families are kept in the loop during investigations. The force has increased its oversight of investigations and developed risk management to prevent cases such as Tucarro’s from falling by the wayside.

Officers have felt consequences, he said.

“Some are no longer with the organization,” he said. “Many of them received… a remedial approach to managing performance.”

That offered little comfort to Tootsie Tucarro, who wept in her son’s arms for a full minute Thursday after her initial statement.

“I’ve talked to mothers where it’s always the same thing. You report your daughter missing (and it’s), ‘Oh, she’s out partying. She’ll come back.’

“That needs to stop. That is not right.”

 

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