'I'm still very angry': Video captures police officers mocking woman with Down syndrome
Published Monday, June 5, 2017 2:09PM EDT Last Updated Monday, June 5, 2017 9:56PM EDT
A family is asking for disciplinary action to be taken against two Toronto police officers who were captured on video making offensive comments about a young woman with Down syndrome.
Speaking to CP24 Monday, the woman’s mother, Pamela Munoz, said the incident occurred in November during a traffic stop.
Munoz said she was driving with her daughters Francie and Yasmin when an officer pulled her over and gave her a ticket for allegedly making a left-hand turn on a red light. When she told the officer that she planned to fight the ticket, he told her it was all on video captured on the cruiser’s dash camera.
Munoz recently obtained the video through disclosure and she said was listening to it at work when she realized there was also audio on it.
“That’s when I heard all of the derogatory terms they (the police officers) used to describe Francie. You know, that she was a half person, disfigured… that he would be using the word ‘artistic’ to describe people that are different, meanwhile laughing, making fun in between,” Munoz said. “We were very hurt. I was absolutely enraged.”
Munoz said it was especially upsetting to hear those words coming from police officers.
“That is something we have always told Francie. The police, you will trust them. If you are ever in trouble, you need help, these are the people you go to and then you hear something like this and she’s not going to feel comfortable maybe approaching a police officer,” Munoz said. “We definitely don’t want this to upset her anymore.”
She said she hopes the officers face some type of disciplinary action and added that Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders had reached out to her family.
“He was very upset about the situation so he wanted to speak to us,” Munoz said.
At the request of the family, Saunders showed up at their home to address the issue.
“The Chief said that he was sorry about what happened,” Francie told CTV News Toronto. “I said thank you for coming to my house. I feel surprised he came over.”
After speaking with the family Saunders said that an investigation is underway.
“The men and women of Toronto police go out there and try to do a good job each and every day – by no means is the situation a fair representation of what goes on on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
Munoz said they were happy Saunders came to their home but they are still expecting a public apology from the two officers involved.
“He was apologetic for the force but really it was the two officers that were in the wrong and hopefully they’ll be able to apologize publically to Francie,” Munoz said.
She said she has more confidence that the officers will apologize after speaking with Saunders.
“It’s really up to the officers to see if they will apologize. I’m sure they’re upset. I don’t know how badly they feel about it. I would have to see them or hear them apologize to see if I think they are even being sincere.”
Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack told CP24 the two officers involved would like to sit down with the family to apologize.
“I’ve spoken with the two officers, they are very apologetic, they’re embarrassed and they want to do whatever they can do to make this right.”
Munoz added that she hopes this incident will serve as a reminder that more awareness and training is needed.
“As a parent, I’m still very angry,” she said. “Hopefully the Toronto Police Service will change some things.”
As well, Mayor John Tory reached out to the family after hearing about the incident.
“We just don’t live in a city where it is permissible to make fun of or otherwise disparage people who are either different or who might have differing abilities in any way so you just find this kind of thing profoundly unacceptable, “Tory said.