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Toronto police chief asks for OPP review after judge in Umar Zameer trial raised concerns about officer testimony

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Toronto’s police chief has asked that Ontario Provincial Police conduct an “independent review” after the judge in the Umar Zameer trial raised concerns about the reliability of officer testimony.

Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy previously told jurors that the police officers’ testimony that was at the centre of the case against Zameer didn’t match the physical evidence and advised them to watch out for possible collusion.

Zameer was ultimately found not guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Det. Const. Jeffrey Northrup on Sunday.

In a statement late Monday afternoon, Denkiw referred to “adverse comments” made by Molloy in explaining his reason for asking for the review. He did not detail those comments any further.

“Whenever the Toronto Police Service becomes aware of concerns raised by the judiciary, its governance requires that a review be conducted with respect to officer testimony, conduct, procedures, practices, and training,” the statement notes.

Northrup died on July 2, 2021 after being struck by Zameer’s BMW in the public parking lot underneath Nathan Phillips Square. The officer had rushed towards the vehicle alongside his partner, both in plainclothes, while investigating a stabbing that had just taken place nearby.

Zameer, who was with his pregnant wife and young son at the time, has consistently maintained he did not know the people approaching his vehicle were police officers.

In his statement in Monday, Denkiw also ordered an internal review of plainclothes policing that would look at all aspects of the process, including “equipment and procedures for officer and public safety.”

Denkiw then went on to clarify comments he made following the verdict in which he suggested that “we were hoping for a different outcome.”

"As I have done my whole career, I respect the judicial process and I accept the decision of the jury. Perhaps closure in a tragic event of this magnitude will come with time,” he said. “As chief, I was acknowledging the emotions many of us were feeling, while struggling with the death of a fellow officer, but of course, closure can never come at the expense of justice.”  

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