Officers acted appropriately in swatting arrest of international trans activist, internal review finds

The chief of the London Police Services LPS says an internal review has determined that responding officers acted appropriately in the case of a controversial arrest of a transgender activist as the result of a swatting hoax.

Transgender activist was arrested at gunpoint in London, Ont., after someone using her deadname made threats

Clara Sorrenti, also known as Keffals on the online platform Twitch, transitioned as a teen and speaks out about transgender rights. (Submitted by Clara Sorrenti)

The chief of the London Police Services (LPS) says an internal review has determined that officers acted appropriately in the case of the controversial arrest of a transgender activist following a swatting hoax. 

In August, internet broadcaster Clara Sorrenti was arrested at gunpoint after the LPS received reports via phone and email saying she was threatening to shoot people at city hall. The 28-year-old was detained for 11 hours. Police later told Sorrenti that someone had used her name and address to send the threats and confess to a murder, which led to the raid. 

"When emergency calls are received, typically with limited information, officers must err on the side of caution and treat them as real until information is received to satisfy themselves otherwise," Chief Steve Williams wrote in a report submitted to the London Police Services Board to be presented Thursday. 

"The actions of responding officers were based on their duty to protect the public, and themselves, given the genuine belief that an individual was in possession of a firearm and had threatened to shoot people." 

As a result of the incident, London's chief said a new system was put in place to flag locations or persons who have been the subjects of previous swattings. That information is maintained in a national database and available to any officer throughout the country to help guide the level of response. 

London Police Chief Steve Williams has submitted an update on an internal investigation to be presented at the London Police Services Board meeting on Thursday. (Andrew Lupton/CBC News)

"I'm happy to see changes came out of what happened to me, but I'm sad that it had to escalate to the point that it did for it to happen," Sorrenti told CBC News Wednesday.

"I don't expect the police to do an internal review of themselves and find that they did something wrong, but I do think that how they handled the situation was incredibly negligent and a couple of phone calls would have given them the background information that they needed to find out that I was never a threat." 

Sorrenti, who goes by Keffals on Twitch, currently has more than 53,000 followers on the platform. She transitioned when she was a teen and speaks about American anti-trans legislation and transgender rights, and was a candidate for the Communist Party of Canada in the 2019 federal election. 

In previous interviews with CBC News and The Washington Post, Sorrenti has described receiving an ample amount of online harassment during her time as an activist. 

New process in place to inform officers on deadnames 

Sorrenti said that police addressed her by a birth name she no longer uses at the time of the arrest on Aug. 5, and told her that the person who wrote the threats went by that name as well. 

It's something that should have raised a red flag if police were sensitive to trans issues, she said.

"Reports that the individual was repeatedly 'deadnamed' (referred to by a previous name and gender) by officers are not accurate as confirmed by audio and video recordings capturing the period in custody," Williams said in the report. 

He acknowledged that a property bag storing Sorrenti's personal items had been labelled with the deadname, which was generated by an internal records management system based on initial interactions with police. 

Police are not automatically notified when an individual changes their name, and individuals who legally change their name are not required to report doing so to the police. 

Another new process will inform officers on what to do when they are interacting with someone who has legally changed their name and reflect the change in the records. 

At the end of August, Sorrenti told CBC News she was temporarily leaving the country to escape a wave of unrelenting harassment. She has since returned to Canada, and is settling back into her life, she said. 

She said she is unable to say whether or not she will file a complaint to the LPS. 

London police said there is no additional information into the investigation looking into the person responsible for threatening Sorrenti at this time. 


Angela McInnes is a reporter for CBC London. She is a graduate of Western University's journalism program. You can reach her at