Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press, December 10, 2018
Black people living in Toronto are grossly overrepresented in incidents where city police use force resulting in injury or death and are 20 times more likely to die in a police shooting than their white counterparts, Ontario’s Human Rights Commission said Monday.
The findings are contained in an interim report on the commission’s probe into racial profiling and discrimination by the Toronto Police Service.
After analyzing numbers collected from the force itself, as well as an agency that investigates police complaints, Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane said the resulting data should stand as proof that police need to take urgent action.
“The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s findings … are disturbing and they demand an explanation,” Mandhane said at a news conference outlining the investigation’s initial findings. “At this interim stage, we are calling on the Toronto police to acknowledge the commission’s very serious human rights concerns.”
Much of the data in the report was derived from cases probed by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, an agency that looks into incidents involving police in which someone is killed, injured or accused of sexual assault.
An examination of SIU cases involving Toronto police officers between Jan. 1, 2013 and June 30, 2017 suggested black people’s serious interactions with city police were disproportionate to their representation in the population.
The report found that although black residents comprised 8.8 per cent of Toronto’s total population, they accounted for 25 per cent of SIU investigations during the time period studied.
Black complainants were involved in 28 per cent of all use-of-force investigations, with their representation trending sharply upward as the seriousness of the force used increased.
The commission said black people were involved in 36 per cent of police shootings they studied, 61 per cent of police use-of-force cases involving civilian death, and 70 per cent of fatal police shootings.
The report also suggested black people are overrepresented in cases of inappropriate stops, searches or charges, adding those issues would be explored more thoroughly in its next report on the issue.