Toronto cop who allegedly ignored domestic violence report charged after woman's death
A Toronto police officer is facing a host of misconduct charges after allegedly failing to properly investigate and report a call for help in a domestic violence case where a woman was shot and killed only days later.
The victim, 23-year-old Daniella Mallia, was found shot in an underground garage in Toronto in August of last year.
Just three days before, according to Toronto police hearing documents outlining the case, Mallia reported to investigators that her ex-boyfriend Dylon Dowman — who is now facing a first-degree murder charge — had been threatening and harassing her in text messages.
Yet Toronto police Const. Anson Alfonso, who is facing police act charges including deceit, neglect of duty and making false or misleading statements, only spoke to Dowman for three minutes and did nothing to help Mallia despite her pleas for help, the hearing documents say.
"Ultimately, you took no action to protect the complainant despite her repeated pleas that her ex-boyfriend's behaviour caused her to fear for her safety," the Toronto police document reads.
None of the allegations levied against Dowman or Alfonso have been proven in court or at the tribunal, respectively. News of the misconduct charges against Alfonso were first reported by The Toronto Star. CBC Toronto has reached out to Alfonso's lawyer for comment.
A long list of charges
According to a police notice of hearing, Alfonso was working in a uniform capacity at 32 Division on Aug. 15, 2022 when he and his partner, Const. Sang Youb Lee, went to a call about a domestic incident that was captured on body-worn camera footage.
Lee is also being charged with misconduct in connection with this case, a Toronto police spokesperson told CBC News, but those allegations have not yet been made public.
Mallia told the officers her ex-boyfriend had been harassing and threatening her in text messages. They spoke with her for about 39 minutes, and in that time gathered information and evidence that provided "reasonable grounds to believe a criminal offence had occurred," according to the hearing documents.
Yet Alfonso only spoke to Dowman for three minutes, and "failed to conduct a sufficient investigation and/or ensure the appropriate next steps were taken," according to Toronto police.
The hearing documents lay out a multitude of allegations against Alfonso, including:
That he failed to collect information and evidence at the scene of the call.
He improperly considered the case to be a "he said, she said," situation.
He cautioned Mallia even though there was "ample evidence" that she was the victim.
That Alfonso didn't provide an accurate account of the call to his supervisor, saying there was no evidence of threats or harassing behaviour when there actually was.
The supervisor also asked Alfonso if there was any information regarding firearms linked to either Mallia or Dowman. He allegedly said there wasn't — when in truth, Dowman had a current firearms prohibition.
Farrah Khan, the executive director of Action Canada and a longtime advocate against gender-based violence, told CBC Toronto in an interview that she was devastated when she heard about the case.
She said considering that Alfonso allegedly only spoke to Dowman for three minutes illustrates that Mallia's complaint was not taken seriously — and that could send a message to survivors of harassment and stalking that they shouldn't call police, or if they do, they might not be taken seriously, either.
"And that needs to change," Khan said.
"Here was a Black young woman, 23 years old, being harassed by her ex-partner, and at a moment of desperation calls the police for support — and then receives no support, really."
An Instagram post from last year made by Pet Valu, where Mallia was employed, paid tribute to her as a "beloved friend and colleague" who "made a great impact on so many people.
"For Daniella who was full of joy and compassion, and sass, please be kind to one another," it read.
Police chief responds
Toronto police also took the rare step of issuing a statement from Police Chief Myron Demkiw, saying that he met with Mallia's family to tell them about the alleged misconduct from his officers, and to notify them of charges laid by the force's professional standards unit.
"As Chief, I am concerned about the alleged misconduct in this case, and want to reassure the public, particularly those who are vulnerable, that officers respond to Intimate Partner Violence calls on a daily basis, and they do so with compassion and professionalism," Demkiw said in the statement.
"Those who fail to follow procedure or to meet our clear professional standards will be held to account. If you fear for your safety, contact police, or reach out to other community supports. Please do not stay silent."
In a statement, Toronto Police Association President Jon Reid said the organization is providing support to both officers linked to the case, "since the time of their suspension from duty.
"This is a tragic incident for everyone involved and we know this has been, and will continue to be, a difficult time. We also know the lives of two police officers have been deeply impacted by this case. With that, comes the reverberating effect on their families and colleagues," Reid said.
"Right now, we understand there are more questions than answers. Police officers are governed by the highest degree of oversight and accountability, more so than any other profession. As difficult as it may be, we must wait for the disciplinary process to take its course. In the interim, there is no value in passing judgment on these officers or with casting aspersions on an entire membership."
Toronto police says the service gets over 19,000 calls related to intimate partner violence each year. Staff Supt. Pauline Gray, who is currently in charge of detective operations and was previously with the domestic violence response team, told CBC news in an interview that she hopes that people affected by domestic violence decide to call for help.
"And I understand that it might be challenging, but please call someone. Don't let this … singular occurrence affect picking up and calling for help," she said.
Toronto police say Alfonso has been with the service for four years, and is currently suspended with pay, as per the provincial Police Services Act.