Relatives of a Toronto woman who died after falling from her balcony last week have postponed speaking with Ontario’s police watchdog, citing concerns about possible leaks from police sources regarding the case, the agency said Wednesday.
Counsel for the family of 29-year-old Regis Korchinski-Paquet told the Special Investigations Unit such leaks undermine their clients’ trust in the investigation, the agency said.
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, the SIU stressed police are prohibited from discussing an incident under investigation by the watchdog precisely to protect the credibility of its work.
It said disclosing such information can also delay the investigative process, “as seems to have occurred here with the cancellation of the family interviews.”
The agency said it has written to the Toronto force to ask that it take immediate steps to prevent “further releases of information about what occurred inside the apartment.”
A story published in the Toronto Sun on Wednesday says unnamed sources told the paper Korchinski-Paquet used a heavy appliance to block her balcony door before she fell to her death.
A spokeswoman for Toronto police said the force does not comment on the validity of information from unnamed sources.
“We can say that the unauthorized release of information is taken seriously by the TPS and the matter is being investigated by Professional Standards,” Meaghan Gray said in an email.
Korchinski-Paquet fell from a 24th-floor balcony last Wednesday while police were in her home, and her family has questioned the role of officers in her death.
The woman’s mother said last week she called police to the apartment and asked them to take her daughter to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Toronto’s mayor and police chief have called on the SIU to expedite its investigation, a process that typically takes months.
The agency said Monday its investigators had spoken with all six officers who were at the home, as well as four other witnesses. It also said its team found video security footage.
Wednesday’s statement said they had spoken to an additional two “civilian witnesses.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2020.
Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press