Thursday, August 01, 2013

Ontario Ombudsman and former SIU Director on Sammy Yatim investigation

Yesterday on CBC Metro Morning, Ontario Ombudsman and former Director of the Special Investigations Unit Andre Marin spoke about the SIU investigation into the Toronto Police shooting death of 18 year old Sammy Yatim on an empty streetcar and the systemic lack of police co-operation with the SIU.
Excerpted transcript : 
CBC : The Chief of Police has said that he and his officers will cooperate fully with the SIU. Yesterday Mike McCormick the head of the police union said that his offices always cooperate and collaborate with the SIU.  
Marin : The cooperation of the police with an SIU investigation is the exception and not the norm. When you hear the police say we always cooperate, it rings hollow. We've done in-depth investigations, two reports. The director of the SIU has written 82 times to the Chief of Toronto Police, reporting issues of evidence tampering on the scene, failure to notify the SIU of an incident, one police lawyer representing multiple officers, police lawyers writing the notes for the officers - you know the police lawyer wasn't on scene. That's not co-operation and all these 82 letters haven't been answered. Last year - we reported in an annual report we released a few weeks ago - last year the director wrote 19 letters all of which have not been answered. 
CBC : Does the fact that this is an incredibly public investigation, in part because this incident was caught not just on one but on multiple videos, change that? 
Marin : I think there's a greater degree of question. As well the incident depicted raises issues. But you know if I recall correctly during the G20 SIU investigation, Chief Blair was on your show promoting the fiction that the videotape of Adam Nobody had been tampered with until the director of the SIU called his bluff. Now is that co-operation or is that undermining the investigation? And the worst part here is - I don't oversee the Toronto Police Service; I do oversee the SIU, I oversee the provincial government. Provincial government committed to strengthening the role of the SIU to make sure the evidence they get is untampered and it's obtained readily and early because SIU's conclusion will only be as good as the evidence that it's gathered. The province agreed to bring change but then from documents we found changed their mind because of "vehement police opposition". And that's a direct quote from the ministry's correspondence. So you know it's all great to see these commitments of 180 degree change in direction in co-operation with the SIU, but the police have to stop playing cat-and-mouse games and the SIU needs to be able to do its job independently and without distractions.  

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