Toronto police allege body camera captures officer making race-based, sexual remarks at murder scene
A Toronto Police detective is facing disciplinary proceedings, accused of making inappropriate race-based and sexual comments at a murder scene that were caught on body camera video.
The remarks by Detective Christopher Hominuk were discovered as another officer reviewed body camera footage in the first-degree murder case in the death of 22-year-old Jovahn McKnollys, who was fatally shot in an Etobicoke plaza last summer.
“While reviewing the footage, you were heard making inappropriate comments based on ancestry and/or colour and/or race and/or citizenship and/or ethnic origin and/or place of origin, which constitutes misconduct,” the charge reads in Hominuk’s notice of hearing.
It’s not clear what Hominuk is alleged to have said. Neither he nor his lawyer returned calls from CTV News on Wednesday.
The case had its first appearance at a Toronto Police disciplinary hearing on Tuesday.
Critics say the new discipline charge is a sign that more work has to be done to root out racist attitudes in the force.
“This is endemic,” Nigel Bariffe of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations said in an interview.
“The Toronto Police Service can make grandiose claims about building bridges with communities that they police, but we continue to see incidents.”
It’s not the first time that Hominuk has been accused of misconduct caught on police cameras.
In 2010, he was recorded by a camera in a back of a police cruiser threatening to taser a suspect in the genitals if that person didn’t provide information. The taser was not discharged and the man was not injured.
At that time, Hominuk pleaded guilty to discreditable conduct. He was convicted in court of threatening bodily harm but was granted a conditional discharge as the judge accepted evidence that his diabetes played a role — he hadn’t slept the night before, he hadn’t eaten recently and he had low blood sugar.
Hominuk kept his job but was busted from first class to second class constable for a year.
The case is an illustration that body cameras may change officers’ behaviour — but only for a short time as police become comfortable with their use, said Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, an assistant professor in the University of Toronto’s department of sociology, speaking for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
“This incident taken in isolation is troubling,” Owusu-Bempah said. “We need to look at the institutional and systemic factors in policing that would make this officer feel comfortable making such remarks in front of others.”
Toronto police charged 32-year-old Abdirashid Ismail Adam with first-degree murder in the death of McKnollys.