The family of a Mississauga man who was shot and killed by Peel police is asking Ontario’s attorney general to reopen the Special Investigations Unit investigation of his death, alleging it was flawed.
Speaking at a Tuesday press conference held via Zoom, Knia Singh, the family’s lawyer, said an independent legal analysis of the case underscores what he says are deficiencies, inaccuracies, omissions and contradictions in the investigation of Jamal Francique Jr.’s shooting death on Jan. 7, 2020.
"The SIU investigation contained many flaws, many holes, " Singh said, referring to what he called incomplete evidence and flawed ballistic information, among other shortfalls.
According to the SIU report on his death, Francique, 28, was shot while trying to evade police during an attempt to arrest him.
Officers with the Peel police street crime unit were attempting to arrest Francique for violating bail conditions when he attempted to get away in a black Acura TSX, the report said.
According to the report, Francique Jr. drove toward two officers who were on foot nearby when one fired several shots at the windshield of the vehicle, hitting Francique in the head.
He died in hospital three days later.
According to the report, a witness officer jumped out of the way of the car, saying she feared for her life.
The officer who shot Francique did so "to ward off what he believed was an imminent risk to his life, " SIU director Joseph Martino wrote in January, clearing the officer of criminal charges.
In his conclusion, Martino wrote that while he accepted the subject officer had the option to withdraw from the situation, he had only moments to make a decision in a highly fraught situation.
"The officer’s decision may not have been the only one available in the moment, but neither was it unreasonable."
In his analysis of the SIU investigation, Singh alleges the "the Director’s application of the law and the many shortcomings of the directors’ report has created a lack of confidence and a mistrust in the SIU’s ability to discharge its responsibility."
On Tuesday, Singh acknowledged that he’s facing an uphill battle because current "legislation does not leave any opening for the appeal of an SIU decision, nor an inquiry."
He said he had called in the backing and counsel of former SIU director Howard Morton, who led the watchdog in the 1990s.
SIU spokesperson, Monica Hudon, told the Star that the watchdog had been provided a copy of Singh’s analysis.
"The SIU will need some time to fully and carefully consider the contents of the report before making any further comment, " Hudon said.
Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.
Jason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star