The lawyers for the family of a Toronto woman who died after falling from a balcony says their investigation suggested the possibility criminal charges could be laid against the police officers who were in the apartment at the time of the incident.
Knia Singh and Howard Morton spoke alongside members of Regis Korchinski-Paquet’s family at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Singh said Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), is now in the closing stages of its investigation. The agency also confirmed it is close to concluding its probe.
Officers were called to Korchinski-Paquet’s apartment on High Park Avenue on May 27 after Singh said Korchinski-Paquet’s mother, Claudette Beals-Clayton, contacted 911 because her daughter was in distress over a family conflict and the call was made out of “safety” and “concern.”
Singh said the two, along with her brother, met police in the hallway leading to their 24th-floor apartment. Family members said she was also having an epileptic seizure.
An unknown period of time transpired and Korchinski-Paquet fell from the balcony to the ground below. Singh said there were only officers in the apartment with her at the time. Family members at the apartment were outside in the hallway while the incident took place. The exact circumstances surrounding the final moments leading up to Korchinski-Paquet’s fall haven’t been released.
Singh and Morton said a second autopsy is currently being conducted outside Ontario and they should receive the results within a week or two.
“It is important that this investigation be clear and transparent and unfortunately with the history of the SIU, there’s many issues that the family and the public have concerns with,” said Singh.
“The call for the second autopsy is to ensure that something was not missed.”
Korchinski-Paquet’s relatives said they want answers to what they believe are shortcomings in the SIU process.
Morton said they have evidence from family members and another person who was “present” at the apartment just before Korchinski-Paquet’s death, but didn’t elaborate on what exactly that evidence was.
“We have no idea what the officers who burst into that apartment have told the SIU nor should we know at this stage… I can simply tell you, our investigation and the facts as I see them, there is clearly a basis for a criminal violation based on the foundation of our investigation,” he said.
“If there are no criminal charges, then we’d be more than happy to disclose what our investigation revealed.”
Morton said their investigation “leads us to believe that there is a sound basis for criminal liability on those officers that burst into the apartment.”
Singh said another march and memorial for Korchinski-Paquet is being planned for July 25 in Toronto beginning at 1 p.m. A public memorial will be followed by the first annual Regis Korchinski-Paquet Walk for Justice.
The memorial will have speakers including, community organizations and advocates calling for police accountability and “bringing awareness to the effects of epilepsy post-ictal phenomena. The memorial is being organized with the help of the Black Lives Matter TO association.
Peter Korchinski, Korchinski-Paquet’s father, said he had a hard time describing how he was feeling.
“I just hope everyone comes out on July 25 to support us and put an end to the system of racism in Canada and all over the world.
“I just want to tell my daughter, I love her very much and I’ll never stop fighting for you until the day I die.”