I am deeply saddened to learn about the death of a 30 year old Black Trans woman on October 26, 2020, who died in hospital after being apprehended by police under the Mental Health Act. I extend my sincerest condolences to her family, friends and to our community deeply affected by yet another loss.
In a release from Toronto Police Service, officers responded to a break in call. Upon arrival, it was determined that no break in had occurred and there was a woman in crisis. While in police custody, she was transported to hospital and went into distress. Life saving measures were taken and unfortunately, she was pronounced deceased at 10:15 a.m. Subsequently, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has been engaged and no further details have been released.
I would like to echo and reinforce calls by The 519 and others in demanding transparency and accountability from the Toronto Police. I am troubled by reports that immediate family have not been contacted by Toronto Police or the SIU. I am troubled by the seemingly inconsistent protocols on how and what information is released in statements. I am troubled that the SIU have misgendered this young woman, and failed to correct their statement.
There is a history of mistrust for the Toronto Police in the LGBTQ2S+ community stemming back to the days of bathhouse raids and even much earlier. Which is exactly why Toronto Police must act swiftly to provide as much information and clarity on this matter forthright. Although, some progress has been made there is much more to do still if we are to amend relationships.
Time and time again, members within the LGBTQ2S+ community, particularly BIPOC queer, trans, and two-spirit communities are let down by the organizations that are mandated to serve and protect them. The actions surrounding this tragedy do not serve to rebuild that trust. Those closest to this loss of life deserve prompt and truthful answers.
This tragic loss also falls in the midst of the City of Toronto’s policing reform efforts, and underscores the urgency in creating a new model of care when responding to mental health crises. No one else should have to die before we change this system and this is why I firmly believe that governments have a responsibility here. I am sorry that the delays in our responses have failed this individual.
On Friday, the City of Toronto released a survey soliciting feedback about a Community Crisis Response Program. Even as we work towards policing reforms, those most vulnerable and in need of protection continue to die. It is clear that these systems of accountability do not serve our communities, especially those at risk.
Despite the SIU investigating, I’m unsure we will get the closure desperately sought. We cannot continue to sit idly as more Trans lives and Black lives are lost. We need more information to get clarity on why and how this happened.
The 519 has launched a campaign asking #TPSWhatHappened? calling for transparency and accountability is a reasonable expectation for our community. The 519 is asking that you contact Toronto Police Services, 43 Division and quote case number 2020-2029228.
CALL: 416-808-4300 (43 Division)
FACEBOOK: @TorontoPolice #TPSWhatHappened
TWITTER: @TPS43Div #TPSWhatHappened
You can also contact the Special Investigation Unit, quote case number 20-TCD-284 and ask them #TPSWHATHAPPENED?
TWITTER: @SIUOntario #TPSWhatHappened
My office has been in touch with The 519 offering condolences and support. I urge you to please continue to advocate for the broader systemic change we need.
For more information on the City of Toronto’s Policing Reform, and to fill out the survey, please visit https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/get-involved/community/policing-reform/.