Written apology ‘not enough’ for mother of woman mocked by Toronto cops
Rachael D'Amore, CTV News Toronto
Published Friday, July 14, 2017 11:20AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, July 14, 2017 6:41PM EDT
The mother of a young woman with Down syndrome says her family will file a human rights complaint against two Toronto police officers who were caught on video spewing insulting comments about her daughter.
Francie Munoz and her family became aware of the inappropriate conversation after her mother, Pamela Munoz, obtained dashboard camera footage taken during a traffic stop back in November.
Munoz says she was driving with her daughters in Etobicoke when she was pulled over for allegedly making a left-hand turn on a red light. Not believing she made the illegal turn, Munoz requested the cruiser’s dashboard camera footage through disclosure.
“When I finally got the tape, months later, we took a look at it and the day before the court date I listened to it. We thought there was no audio on the tape,” Munoz told CP24 on Friday. “When we listened to it, we realized all these comments were on it.”
In the now highly publicized video, two Toronto police officers can be heard referring to Francie as being ‘half of a woman.’
“Artistic. That’s going to be my new code word for different,” one officer says while laughing.
The other officer can be heard chuckling in response.
Distraught by her discovery, Munoz took the video public in hopes her daughter would receive an apology from the officers. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders later reached out to the family and visited Francie at their home to apologize on behalf of the service.
But Munoz says that’s simply not enough.
“It was a private conversation. Basically, he felt bad for what Francie had gone through so he was basically apologizing in the sense of feeling bad about what had happened,” she said.
“But he can’t apologize for the officers, that’s something they need to do on their own.”
Munoz says she requested three specific things from Toronto Police in the wake of the ordeal – a direct apology for Francie, a public apology “in front of a camera of some sort,” and that the officers at fault get involved with a charity related to developmental disabilities.
Francie has been “stressed” about what happened and the subsequent media attention, Munoz said, so she declined to be interviewed today.
“She is upset. She’s upset that she’s not getting – and her friends aren’t getting – the public apology, because to her it’s really important that everyone that has some type of disability gets this apology,” Munoz said.
“A written statement is not going to do it for us.”
Cops in question issue written apology
Mere hours after Munoz spoke publicly about her desire for a public apology, the two officers in question sent the family a written statement.
The statement, obtained by CP24 through the Toronto Police Association, was written by constables Saso Sljivo and Matthew Saris.
In it, they describe their behaviour “inexcusable.”
“We take full responsibility for our actions. Our comments were inappropriate, disrespectful and unprofessional. We regret the emotional distress we caused to you, your family and the broader community,” the statement reads.
“You have our assurance that our lapse in judgement will not be repeated. Once again, we are truly sorry and hope that you will accept our apology.”
Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack told CP24 on Friday that both officers always intended on visiting Francie and apologizing in person but because they refused to do so on camera, their offers were turned down.
He said the Munoz’s wanted a “public shaming” of the officers, which they wanted no part of. He said that he's disappointed the meeting won’t happen as a result of this.
Previously, Munoz said McCormack seemed willing to try to get the officers to visit Francie in person, but told her that a written public apology was more likely.
The officers are scheduled to face a police tribunal disciplinary hearing next month. Toronto Police has not indicated the exact nature of charges the officers will face.
Munoz said her family isn’t waiting until August to get the ball rolling on justice for Francie.
“We’ve started the process of putting a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission so we will see what happens on August 15, the whole family will be there – all four of us will be at that tribunal,” she said.
“Hopefully we get to make a statement… we’ll see what happens.”