MIGRANTE Ontario Youth

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Archive for October, 2008

Justice for Jeffrey Update

Posted by anakbayantoronto on October 1, 2008

Jeffrey Reodica, 1987-2004

Jeffrey Reodica, 1987-2004

Members of Migrante Ontario Youth were part of the Justice for Jeffrey (J4J) campaign which started in 2004.  J4J was a response to the death of 17-year-old Jeffrey Reodica who was shot by a Toronto Police officer.  The police officer was cleared by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) as they claimed that the officer was only acting in self-defense.

The case of Jeffrey Reodica was one among those considered by the Ombudsman of Ontario in conducting an inquiry into the Special Investigations Unit.

Following are Toronto Star articles on the result of the Ombudsman’s investigation.

(For background on the Justice for Jeffrey campaign, visit www.reodica.com.jeff.)

* * *

SIU more problem than solution

Ombudsman’s Report
Confidence in SIU eroded
Timing of hiring decried
Mother perplexed by ruling
Family left in the dark
Mother denied answers


Ombudsman André Marin issued 46 recommendations to improve the Special Investigations Unit, the provincial civilian agency empowered to lay charges against the police. Here are five highlights:

1. Police failure to co-operate with the Special Investigations Unit, or their obstruction of same, should be punishable by fine or imprisonment consistent with similar provincial offences.

2. The SIU should ensure that all police delays or other failures in complying with legislative and regulatory requirements are properly analyzed and that rigorous action is taken to ensure compliance, including publicizing incidents of non-compliance, and application be made to the courts for settlement of disputed interpretation.

3. The SIU should be reconstituted under new legislation dealing specifically with its mandate and investigative authority.

4. The SIU should be legislatively required to publicly disclose a director’s report, in cases involving decisions not to charge, subject to the director’s discretion to withhold information on the basis that disclosure would involve a serious risk of harm.

5. The SIU (and the Ministry of the Attorney General and Ontario Government) should report back to Marin at six-month intervals regarding the progress made in implementing his recommendations, “until such time as I am satisfied that adequate steps have been taken to address them.”
Ombudsman slams SIU bias
Rob Maltar didn’t believe it when the province’s Special Investigations Unit ruled his brother had killed himself with a police officer’s gun. But he didn’t know where to turn.
Ombudsman’s report confirms well-known faults at agency, but overreaches to solidify arguments
Oct 01, 2008 04:30 AM
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Rosie Dimanno

Their job is to lead, investigate and oversee. They more commonly bring up the rear and overlook.

Never seems to be a Special Investigations Unit dick – civilian version – around when you need one either.

The probers arrive late, are often confronted with compromised crime scenes, laggard in interviewing witness officers, easily obstructed by department chiefs and union lawyers, impotent in the face of police resistance and too closely associated with cop culture to boot.

Distilled to its essence, the SIU is a “toothless” agency in need of sweeping reconstitution and precise mandating legislation if any hope remains of securing public confidence. And where have we heard this before?

At least a half dozen times, via exhaustive reviews, since the SIU was created in 1990 – then, as now, Ontario the only province to have an independent civilian oversight body responsible for criminal investigations against police.

André Marin, Ontario’s ombudsman, took his kick at the can yesterday, releasing “Oversight Unseen,” an “Investigation into the Special Investigations Unit’s operational effectiveness and credibility.” It has, apparently, little of both.

Since its inception, the SIU has opened and closed 2,771 cases but laid just 73 charges. Does that mean cops in Ontario who have committed grievous crimes – the SIU is summoned only where serious injury or death has resulted – are getting away with, well, murder and the like? Perhaps.

A great many cases are aborted by the Justice Prosecutions Unit, within the Ministry of the Attorney General, after concluding there is no reasonable prospect of conviction. Intentionally or not, the evidentiary threshold for laying charges against police officers is palpably higher than for civilians.

The public is often left wondering: Huh?

One of Marin’s more sensible recommendations (out of 46) is for the SIU director – a new one appointed just last week – to offer a public explanation when charges aren’t laid or later withdrawn. The SIU now operates in an information bell jar, obstinately insistent on secrecy.

Transparency is critical to fostering public trust. But apart from terse releases announcing that a case has been closed, the SIU has never shared its reasons for backing off, nor indicated when that decision has been made at 720 Bay St., further up the A-G chain of prosecutorial command.

We have a right to know. And the SIU director, as Marin also recommends, has a right to pursue Police Act charges when criminal charges are deemed insupportable.

Marin, as is his wont, uses blunt language to make blunt points. Anecdotally, though, he overreaches to solidify an argument. His thumbnail sketches of incidents illustrating “serious problems” identified by his team in evaluating SIU response on call-outs will give succour – and perhaps civil suit muscle – to some victims’ families. But they aren’t always accurate.

His description, for example, of events surrounding the police shooting death of Toronto teenager Jeffrey Reodica in 2004 plays fast and loose with evidence as heard at a lengthy inquest. While the germane issue, for purposes of this report, was that SIU staff took way too long to interview civilian witnesses, the impression left is that this delay resulted in a faulty investigation.

It’s a bad case to mount that argument. Reodica did swing a knife at officers. But Marin gets caught up in the minutiae to substantiate his broader criticisms, dangling implications that have been refuted.

He does the same thing in the case of James Maltar, “shot dead at the OPP Port Credit detachment” three years ago, after a struggle with two officers. Investigators ruled Maltar, who had bipolar disorder, had grabbed a cop’s gun and shot himself.

The victim’s brother insisted yesterday police had “murdered” Maltar. He took heart from Marin’s two-paragraph recap of the incident as supporting this claim. But Marin had only narrowly made the point that four of eight SIU investigators arrived at the scene two to four hours after the shooting had been reported to the agency, witness officers and civilians not interviewed for more than a week.

He clearly wasn’t implying that a civilian had been murdered in custody, yet that was how the reference played to the Maltar family, which has a lawsuit in the works.

Marin, who was for two years SIU director, should know better. If there’s a case to be made against the officers, make it. But, in the absence of evidence supporting a charge, he shouldn’t be even indirectly insinuating it, such that a hurting family can jump from A to Z.

These inferences will give ammunition to the thin blue line that continues to resist civilian oversight and the SIU. It detracts from what has been well documented: Failure to report incidents immediately, avoiding the priority that regulations give to SIU probes, lack of rigour in those probes, serious injuries to civilians discounted, intolerable delays in officers submitting to interviews and handing over notes, a built-in cultural identification between SIU investigators and cops, complacency about police following the rules that do exist.

There is a perception that cops are treated differently when investigated. That perception is the truth.

But we’ve known this forever.

What Marin confirmed yesterday is that the SIU remains a greater part of the problem than the solution – timid, marginalized and scrutinizing police through “blue-coloured glasses.” Those in power must want it that way.


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