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Toronto's police chief clarifies initial statement on Umar Zameer acquittal, says he 'accepts' jury's finding

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Toronto's Chief of Police has clarified a statement that he'd hoped for "a different outcome" made just after Umar's Zameer acquittal, telling reporters Tuesday he supports and accepts the jury's finding in the five-week trial.

“Let me be crystal clear: I support and accept the verdict of the jury,” Chief Myron Demkiw said at a news conference at Toronto police headquarters.

“I have always been a supporter of the justice process, including all elements of the system that leads us towards justice.”

Demkiw pinned the comment made Sunday on a desire to seek closure, “as elusive as closure can be,” in the death of Toronto Police Det. Const. Jeffrey Northrup.

The officer, alongside partner Lisa Forbes, were in plainclothes and had rushed Zameer's car while investigating a nearby stabbing, the court heard.

While Zameer has always maintained he didn't know Northrup and Forbes were undercover officers, the prosecution alleged otherwise, suggesting the Brampton accountant intentionally ran Northrup down.

On Monday, Demkiw ordered the Ontario Provincial Police to conduct an “independent review” of Toronto police after Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy raised concerns about the reliability of officer testimony in the Umar Zameer trial.

Denkiw also ordered an internal review of plainclothes policing procedures.

Reporters pressed the police chief Tuesday on concerns raised over the independence of one police agency investigating another. In response, Denkiw said safeguards will be put in place to prevent bias and ultimately, “go where the facts lead us.”

When asked whether the requested review could be interpreted as an acknowledgement of error, Demkiw said it was too early to comment. 

In Zameer’s testimony, he said he feared his family was being robbed when an man and woman in plainclothes rushed towards his car, and started banging on it when he locked his door.

The police chief acknowledged that “every encounter with the public matters” when it comes to mending the public’s trust in police.

“We certainly recognize the concerns of the community. We're going to do everything we can to rebuild trust in the best way we possibly can.” 

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