Ont. NDP leader facing criticism from police groups after comments on Korchinski-Paquet case

TORONTO — Police Chief James Ramer is taking issue with comments made by NDP Leader Andrea Horwath that seem to suggest that officers were at fault for the death of a Toronto woman who fell from her balcony one year ago.

Regis Korchinski-Paquet fell to her death from her 24th-floor balcony on May 27, 2020 while police were in her apartment.

The province’s police watchdog was called in to investigate the incident but eventually cleared all six officers of any criminal wrongdoing after concluding that Korchinski-Paquet was alone on the balcony at the time of her fall and likely lost her balance while trying to climb onto her neighbour’s balcony.

In a message posted to Twitter on the anniversary of Korchinski-Paquet’s death on Thursday, Horwath referred to “her killing” and noted that her family “is still seeking justice” one year later.

Horwath also said Korchinski-Paquet “deserved help, support and life” and that we “can and must do so much better.

Her comments have since ignited a firestorm of criticism on social media with many people accusing her of politicizing a tragedy.

In a message posted to Twitter on Friday afternoon, Ramer said that the officers who responded to Korchinski-Paquet’s apartment “were found by independent reviews to have acted in accordance with their duties and the law” and that to suggest otherwise is “divisive and irresponsible.”

Toronto Police Association President Jon Reid also took issue with Horwath’s comments in a separate post. He said that Korchinski-Paquet “was not killed” and that “justice is not building a false story of lies villainizing police” nor is it “questioning accountability when an independent investigation didn’t fuel a false narrative.”

“If you want to do better, this is not the way,” he said.

Family has rejected SIU findings

Korchinski-Paquet mother previously told reporters that her daughter was suffering a mental episode and that she called officers to the apartment to get her help.

While the SIU did eventually clear officers of any criminal wrongdoing following a months-long investigation, Korchinski-Paquet’s family has rejected their findings and has filed a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.

In a statement provided to CP24 on Friday, Horwath stood behind the critical nature of her comments, noting that “Korchinski-Paquet’s death was the result of an entire system that failed her” and that she ultimately “didn’t get the mental health help, or the urgent de-escalation intervention, she needed to protect her life.”

However, in a message posted to Twitter Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Jeff McGuire said that Horwath’s words were “irresponsible” and “inflammatory” as they “suggested someone killed her.”

“Work being done to improve the safety of all communities is badly eroded by your “flame-fanning comments. You owe an apology and you need to correct your statement,” he said.

Regis Korchinski-Paquet

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