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The truth should matter, even if you don’t agree – The tragic death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet

September 2020

On 29 August, Toronto Sun’s Editor Emeritus Lorrie Goldstein published an column titled: “When police are accused of racism, facts don’t matter.”

It recounted the extensive report issued by Ontario’s Special Investigation Unit into the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet on 27 May 2020; a 29 year-old woman who fell to her death from the balcony of her 24th floor apartment. The SIU report conclusively cleared the police officers of any responsibility in Ms. Korchinski-Paquet’s death.

Police had received five 911 calls regarding an assault related to family dispute; one from her mother, one from her brother and three from Ms. Korchinski-Paquet herself.

According to independent witnesses, Ms. Korchinski-Paquet climbed over the railing on her apartment’s balcony and attempted to climb to a neighbouring apartment, when she lost her balance and fell to her death.

This didn’t stop the family and their lawyer Knia Singh from making anti-police statements, including an accusation that police threw Ms. Korchinski-Paquet from the balcony.

“(Police) came into my apartment and shoved her off the balcony and told CP24 not to come here, that it’s a suicide, but the police killed her,” mother Claudette Korchinski​​​​​​-Beals said in an Instagram video posted by Korchinski-Paquet’s cousin.

Goldstein points out in his column these days, the truth doesn’t matter. In the current anti-police environment, activists won’t be satisfied until all the involved officers are jailed for the rest of their lives, regardless that the facts conclusively prove that Ms. Korchinski-Paquet’s death was a very tragic accident.

I’d heard Mr. Singh’s opinions on the radio numerous times and after seeing this column, wondered if his opinions had changed any, especially in light of the SIU report. I sent Mr. Singh an e-mail, simply asking him what he thought of Goldstein’s column.

This is what he wrote back to me”

“All Lorrie did was recount the SIU report as if it is all completely accurate.
Untested evidence is the new standard of proof?
It doesnt matter that no one was fighting when the police arrived.
It doesn’t matter that after seeing the situation calm and the mothers repeated attempts to have camh involved the police did not engage the MCIT team who could have been a good support. 
It doesnt matter that the police illegally entered the apartment when no one was under arrest.
It doesnt matter that the police owed Regis a duty of care once they entered that apartment.
It doesnt matter that police and paramedics were the only peope in the room when Regis ended up on the balcony and we haven’t seen any of the officers notes explaining what happened.
It is a ridiculous game that can be played, with everyone always trying to justify actions on behalf of the police. 
And it doesnt matter that the 2 autopsies have distinctly different notations that require further investigation.
It is an empty article with no substance. Just hate and conjecture.”

I was disappointed to read his response, so I decided to challenge him on his comments. I wrote him back with the following critique:

“So your position is that the police did nothing right; the SIU did little to bring that to light and Lorrie did nothing right in his summation?  What conjecture and hate does Lorrie spew?

I’ll be upfront that I completely disagree with your assessment, but I’m certainly willing to listen to what you have to say (or can say under the circumstances), and maybe admit that I was wrong.  You’ve obviously seen evidence that I’m not privy to, so I hope we can have a respectful , and maybe even educational, conversation here, even if we ultimately disagree in the end.

I read the SIU report and while it’s true that it hasn’t been tested in a court, the report clearly outlines what evidence that I expect the SIU would introduce to substantiate their conclusions if the matter was before a court; evidence consisting of police and civilian witness statements, investigator reports, audio, photographic and video evidence, all of which appears to correspond with the other.  What evidence do you have to substantiate your claim that the SIU report is inaccurate?

https://www.siu.on.ca/en/directors_report_details.php?drid=908

You make note of the autopsy reports.  What distinctly different notations are of concern?  The only glaring issue that I can see is the question of how what appeared to be “grab marks.”  Is there another issue not in the SIU report that concerns you?  The SIU report makes note of a physical altercation amongst Ms Korchinski-Paquet, her mother and her brother.  Do you have anything to indicate that these marks didn’t occur during the family altercation?  Are you implying the marks are from the police grabbing her at some point in time?  Do you and the family still maintain that the police threw Ms Korchinski-Paquet off the balcony?

If the police were negligent, they must be held accountable.  If there are factors that could have changed the outcome before there was even a need to call the police, then that needs to come to light, and be accepted and corrected for any future situations.  If there was little that could reasonably have been done to change the outcome, that needs to come to light and be accepted.  While SIU Director Joseph Martino notes that the police, “…might have acted more proactively in the penultimate moments of the incident by venturing onto the balcony.  That said, the concern that doing so might worsen the situation was not without merit.”

Further, Director Martino notes, “I cannot fault the officers for failing to take Ms Korchinski-Paquet into custody prior to her scaling the balcony railing.  She had not given them any indication that she wished to harm herself and was professing to be the victim of an assault at the hands of her brother.” and “Instead, as they correctly surmised, she was attempting to traverse to the neighbouring balcony.”

Director Martino certainly isn’t claiming that the police were perfect in all regards, but does note that for most part, the police did the best they could under the circumstances and with the information they had in a situation that was dynamic and volatile at times.  He notes that the police were also dealing with, “…conflicting information about who had done what to whom….” 

Regardless, the evidence led Director Martino to conclude that there was nothing that the police did that rose to criminality.

I certainly don’t mean to diminish the tragedy of Ms Korchinski-Paquet’s death in any way, but I submit to you that if she had successfully traversed to the neighbouring balcony and then been safely intercepted in that apartment, and given the assistance that she needed, we would be having a very different conversation.  Even if she had been arrested in the neighbouring apartment and charged with an offence, we would still be having a different conversation.

As for your claim that, “It is a ridiculous game that can be played, with everyone always trying to justify the actions on behalf of the police,” unless you have some evidence to the contrary, the evidence as detailed in the SIU report seems to speak for itself.  I don’t see what justifying other people have to do here.

I do believe that you said on Newstalk 1010 that you are producing your own report?  If so, when will it be released?  I would love to read it so I can understand and evaluate what evidence you have to prove your case, which right now seems to be that, at best, the police displayed a level of depraved indifference towards Ms Korchinski-Paquet.”

As of this date, I haven’t heard back from Mr. Singh. I certainly don’t wish to disparage him, but I can’t understand how an officer of the court can be so dismissive of the SIU report, especially when offering no evidence to the contrary.

Although I’m a retired cop, I don’t subscribe to the opinion that I must hate all criminal (defence) lawyers. They perform an essential job in our legal system. Even Paul Bernardo deserved a legal defence.

I once had a criminal lawyer apologise to me outside a courtroom after, in his words, “gave me a hard time” on the stand. I told him I took no offence, and that if I ever found myself charged with a defence and he was my lawyer, I’d expect nothing less from him.

If a police officer crosses the line, they deserve to be prosecuted and jailed, if necessary. Despite what some may tell you, many have been jailed in the past, like former Toronto cop James Forcillo and former Barrie cop Jason Nevill.

But if police officers have done nothing wrong, they should not be painted as criminals.

The current anti-police rhetoric has gone beyond being toxic, and is now very dangerous. Those whom I would consider nothing more than thugs and anarchists are so emboldened these days that they think nothing of swarming and attacking police officers, whether in their police cars or on foot.

Three Toronto Police cars were swarmed last Saturday (12 September) at an illegal stunt driving event, billed as “Takeover Toronto” in Scarborough at 2:30 am. The officers were able to hold off these anarchists until more officers arrived on-scene, at which point the crowd finally dispersed. The matter is still under investigation.

There was a time when the crowd would have dispersed the moment the first police car arrived, maybe even before if a lookout spotted them first. Today, police are attacked and if they defend themselves, the usual suspects shout police brutality.

Back in March, a York Regional Police officer was almost beaten to death by a 22 year-old man while sitting in his scout car in a parking lot in Richmond Hill.

Two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies were shot while sitting in their scout car on 13 September. Both are in hospital recovering from their wounds.

Many American Police officers recently haven’t been so lucky. It’s only a matter of time before a Canadian police officer is killed.

What do you have to say about that , Mr. Singh.

************************************************************************

The original by Lorrie Goldstein, Editor Emeritus of the Toronto Sun that inspired this column:

https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/goldstein-when-police-are-accused-of-racism-facts-dont-matter

************************************************************************

Sources: https://torontosun.com/news/local-news/no-winners-in-release-of-siu-report-on-regis-korchinski-paquets-death, https://torontosun.com/news/local-news/warmington-korchinski-paquet-case-takes-toll-on-first-responders-mental-health, https://www.siu.on.ca/en/directors_report_details.php?drid=908, https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/goldstein-when-police-are-accused-of-racism-facts-dont-matter, https://torontosun.com/news/local-news/ex-cop-james-forcillo-gets-full-parole-in-sammy-yatim-shooting, https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/4583438-former-barrie-cop-jason-nevill-released-from-jail-changes-name, https://torontosun.com/news/local-news/warmington-cop-cars-attacked-at-takeover-toronto-event, https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/man-who-allegedly-beat-york-cop-with-his-own-baton-now-charged-with-attempted-murder-1.4872455?cache=yes%2Fdon-martin-1.816488%3Fot%3DAjaxLayout%3FclipId%3D89680, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/fifth-estate-regis-korchinski-paquet-siu-1.5699999?__vfz=medium%3Dsharebar&fbclid=IwAR27gu0wbN0NWrjBVSbU3DMYly7aSBToG3sMbgwwa2VdEIouLn3bO4959gY.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/the-truth-should-matter-even-if-you-dont-agree-the-tragic-death-of-regis-korchinski-paquet/

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