Death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet

The death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Indigenous-Ukrainian-Black Canadian woman, occurred in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on May 27, 2020. Her mother, Claudette Beals-Clayton, called for police assistance after a domestic conflict with a request to take her daughter to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). While her mother and brother were in the hallway of their apartment building, police entered the 24th floor apartment after Korchinski-Paquet, who went to use the bathroom. The family heard Korchinski-Paquet cry for help, followed by quiet, and then the officers confirming that she had fallen off the balcony. Korchinski-Paquet fell to the ground below, and died at the scene. Her family accused the Toronto Police Service of having played a role in her death, which has led to a Special Investigations Unit investigation.

Death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet
DateMay 27, 2020
Timeafter 5:00 pm
LocationToronto, Ontario, Canada
ParticipantsToronto Police
Claudette Beals-Clayton
Reece Korchinski
DeathsRegis Korchinski-Paquet

Korchinski-Paquet's death has inspired a number of protests in Canada against police involvement in her death and other issues of anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism. These protests occurred at the same time as the George Floyd protests.[1][2]

BackgroundEdit

Five years prior to the incident, Korchinski-Paquet was diagnosed with epilepsy and mental health concerns that had sometimes resulted in calls to the police for assistance.[1]

IncidentEdit

Around 5:15 pm, Korchinski-Paquet's mother called police to their 24th story apartment in High Park North after a domestic conflict. Her mother wanted officers to take Korchinski-Paquet to CAMH, in an effort to deescalate the situation so it would not become unsafe. However, it appears the officers believed they were responding to a domestic incident, according to a statement from the Special Investigations Unit, who are now investigating the incident.[3]

The Toronto Police Service's Chief, Mark Saunders, clarified that the call was for an assault, stating that three separate people had called in and that knives were indicated by at least two individuals, limiting the responding teams that could be sent to assist the situation.[4]

When police arrived at the apartment, they were met by Korchinski-Paquet, her mother and brother, Reece Korchinski-Beals, in the hallway and exchanged a few words with the officers as they walked down the hall.[1] Shortly after, Korchinski-Paquet told officers she needed to use the bathroom and was followed into the apartment by multiple officers, who would not allow entry by other family members.[5]

After a few minutes of Korchinski-Paquet and the officers in the apartment together, the mother and brother reportedly heard her calling for help before silence. An officer reportedly then came out and knocked on the neighbour's apartment door and told them that Korchinski-Paquet was either in the neighbouring unit or the one a floor below.[3]

InvestigationEdit

An investigation is being conducted by the Special Investigations Unit. On June 1, investigators announced that they had conducted interviews with six officers and four civilian witnesses and obtained video surveillance footage from the apartment complex.[6] Details of the interviews and footage have not been released.[7]

On June 3, the Toronto Sun reported that Korchinski-Paquet blockaded the balcony door before falling to her death, citing unnamed sources.[8] In response to the Sun reporting an apparent leak by police sources, the family of Korchinski-Paquet cancelled their scheduled police interviews with the Special Investigations Unit.[9][10]

AftermathEdit

 
Protest in Toronto on May 30

Shortly after Korchinski-Paquet's death, her mother Beals-Clayton was recorded in a video stating that responding officers had shoved her daughter off the apartment balcony.[11] Her cousin claimed that it was not possible that she decided to take her own life, stating "Exactly, my cousin’s not jumping. She’s a Christian woman, she’s not doing suicide, that ain’t what we do, we don’t do that, we ain’t killing ourselves, that’s number one, 100 per cent."[12]

The Toronto Police Services Board announced that they agree that "everyone wants and deserves answers" and that the investigation into the matter "as expeditiously as possible". The head of the union representing Toronto police stated that everyone should withhold judgement until all facts and evidence are available.[4]

A protest organized by the group Not Another Black Life occurred on May 30. Thousands of people gathered to protest Korchinski-Paquet's death and other issues of anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism. Police officers estimated the protest was attended by 3,500 to 4,000 people at the Toronto rally, with a few hundred at a separate rally in Halifax.[11] Due to the size of the crowd, many protesters were unable to maintain 2 metres (6.6 ft) of physical distance, which had been mandated by the province in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[13] A further protest in Toronto occurred on June 5.[14]

The rallies took place at the same time as rallies, protests and riots in the United States and elsewhere in reaction to the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.[11][14]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Yuen, Jenny (May 29, 2020). "Family of woman who died in Toronto balcony fall want answers from police | Toronto Sun". Toronto Sun. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  2. ^ "Anti-black racism protesters fill streets at Toronto rally". CBC News. June 5, 2020. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Legassic, Ashley (May 28, 2020). "Family of Regis Korchinski-Paquet speaks out". www.iheartradio.ca. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Fox, Chris; Herhalt, Chris (May 29, 2020). "'There's a whole lot that I want to say,' Saunders says of Toronto woman's fatal fall". CP24. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  5. ^ Doradea, Karen (May 29, 2020). "Regis Korchinski-Paquet Screamed For Help Before She Died Says Her Family's Lawyer". www.narcity.com. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  6. ^ Nasser, Shanifa (June 1, 2020). "Security footage retrieved from highrise where Toronto woman fell to her death". CBC News. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  7. ^ Westoll, Nick (June 1, 2020). "Surveillance video secured in Regis Korchinski-Paquet death investigation: Ontario's police watchdog". Global News. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  8. ^ Pazzano, Sam (June 3, 2020). "Woman blockaded balcony door before deadly fall: Sources". Toronto Sun. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
  9. ^ "Family of Regis Korchinski-Paquet puts interview with police watchdog 'on hold' after leak by 'sources'". CBC News. June 3, 2020. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
  10. ^ Patton, Jessica (June 3, 2020). "Regis Korchinski-Paquet's family's interview with SIU on hold after concerns over leaked information". Global News. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c Westroll, Nick; Rocca, Ryan (May 30, 2020). "Thousands rally in Toronto after death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet". Global News. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  12. ^ Herhalt, Chris (May 28, 2020). "Toronto family questions police involvement in woman's fatal fall from balcony". CTV News. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
  13. ^ "Justice for Regis rally held in Halifax". CBC News. May 30, 2020. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
  14. ^ a b "Anti-black racism protesters fill streets at Toronto rally". CBC News. June 5, 2020. Retrieved June 5, 2020.