A lawyer for the family of a black man shot to death by a Peel Regional Police officer in January 2020 is asking the Ontario police to reopen its investigation into the fatal shooting.
Knia Singh J.D., principal lawyer for Ma’at Legal Services, said the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which cleared a police officer of the murder of Jamal Francique, based its decision on a failed investigation.
Francique, 28, was shot in the back of the head while in his car in Mississauga during an attempted arrest on January 7, 2020. He was put on life support devices and died in the hospital two days later.
Singh released an interim report of a comprehensive legal inquiry into the murder on Tuesday. The report was sent to the Attorney General of Ontario.
“SIU Report # 20-OFD-005 has numerous significant inaccuracies, discrepancies and contradictions that compromise the credibility and reliability of the Report, as a result of which the Director’s decision is suspect,” wrote Singh.
On January 20, 2021, SIU director Joseph Martino said in the SIU report on Francique’s death: “… as I am satisfied … that there is not enough evidence to reasonably conclude that the [Subject Officer] acting differently than legally during this incident, there is no basis for pursuing the charges against the officer, despite the death of Mr. Francique. The file is closed. “
SIU, an independent civilian agency, investigates police conduct that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault or the shooting of a firearm at a person.
But Singh says the interim report presents information that the SIU has been unable to resolve.
“To point out, there are many discrepancies in the initial SIU report. These discrepancies suggest that if the SIU was unable to produce an accurate and reliable report, what information is the director receiving and how does this affect his decision? Did the SIU investigation contain many failures, many holes, “he said.
One of the most significant flaws and omissions in the SIU report, says Singh, was the director’s analysis of the planning and execution of the events that led to the fatal shooting.
“The evidence record is incomplete,” he said.
Ontario’s attorney general’s office and SIU did not return emails from CBC News.
Const. Akhil Mooken, a police spokesman for Peel, said in an email on Tuesday: “As we have not had the opportunity to revise the document, I cannot provide an answer at this time. After reviewing the document, we may be in a position to provide an answer. “
According to the interim report, the inconsistencies in the SIU report include when the shots were fired, why the police were arresting Francique, the color of the vehicle he was driving, when the police approached him, where a firearm was found in Francique and where in the body he was shot.
The interim report also disagrees with the ballistic analysis that suggests that four police cartridges from a policeman were found at the scene and that four bullets were aimed at the driver’s side of the vehicle that Francique was driving.
“The direction from which the bullets came and how they entered the vehicle were not scientifically established or reconstructed by the SIU. It is claimed that the Center for Forensic Science (CFS) could not provide an accurate reconstruction of the trajectory, therefore, observations based on assumptions were presented as evidence in Report # 20-OFD-005 “, says the interim report.
Singh writes that “the numerous glaring inaccuracies and discrepancies” lead to “great concern about the competence of the investigation carried out by the SIU.”
The interim report notes that Francique was under surveillance for three days by members of the Organized Crime Unit (Anti-Drug Squad) of the Peel Regional Police, Vice-Narcotics. Francique was under house arrest. He was seen traveling to various locations in violation of his bail conditions.
Singh’s report says the unit organized a plan for an “extremely high-risk secret overthrow” of Francique using six plainclothes policemen and unmarked vehicles overnight. The unit watched him walk about 200 meters for two minutes to the vehicle he was driving. When he left the vacancy he was in, unidentified vehicles and people tried to block his vehicle. Firearms were aimed at him, Singh writes.
The estimated time for the shooting was at 19:44.
According to the interim report, the officer in charge of blocking Francique’s vehicle in the spot arrived late at the scene.
“The failed and poorly planned attempt by the Peel Anti-Drug Squad to arrest Mr. Francique in the dark using vehicles and unidentified people resulted in 4 shots being fired at Mr. Franciques’s vehicle, with one of them hitting him in the back of the head. As a result , the vehicle that Mr. Francique was driving later hit the pillar of a nearby garage, where the vehicle remained stationary, with no signs of movement by Mr. Francique, “says the report.
Lawyer says quality of SIU report creates distrust
“The Peel Police did not respond to Mr. Francique after the shots were fired for approximately 25 minutes. When the paramedics arrived, Mr. Francique remained unanswered and bleeding.
“Mr. Francique was then transported to St. Michael’s Hospital 37.8 km and 33 minutes away, instead of being taken to Credit Valley Hospital, which was just 2.3 km and 5 minutes away. Mr. Francique remained unanswered from the moment he was shot. On January 9, 2021, Mr. Francique died as a result of a gunshot. “
The report concludes: “This SIU investigation in terms of investigative quality, the application of the law by the Director and the many shortcomings in the directors’ report created a lack of confidence and mistrust in SIU’s ability to fulfill its responsibility. of Mr. Francique’s family, but also within his own community and members of the public. “
Singh said the interim report is breaking new ground because it is an attempt to hold the SIU accountable for its decisions.
“It was time for SIU to be held responsible for them, supposedly holding the police accountable.”