Toronto

Black Lives Matter protests disrupt police board meeting

Demonstrators with Black Lives Matter Toronto disrupted a meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board at police headquarters Friday, just as the board was preparing to discuss the police shooting death last summer of Andrew Loku.

Protesters demand answers in death of Andrew Loku last summer

Members of the protest group Black Lives Matter Toronto at a Police Services Board meeting. (Michael Smee/CBC)

Demonstrators with Black Lives Matter Toronto disrupted a meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board at police headquarters Friday, just as the board was preparing to discuss the police shooting death last summer of Andrew Loku.

Loku was a father of five shot dead last July 5 in the third-floor hallway of an apartment complex in the city's west end that was leased by the Canadian Mental Health Association. He had refused to comply with police demands to drop a hammer he was holding and threatened to kill a friend of a guest in the apartment.

The officer who shot Loku and a second officer had entered the building and confronted Loku, with guns drawn, in the hallway.

Black Lives Matter Toronto protesters say they see Loku's death as a symptom of what they consider a racist police force.

Chanting "black lives, they matter here," about 10 protesters chastised the board for not releasing the name of the officer who shot Loku during the confrontation.

The group directed some of its wrath at Mayor John Tory, who sits on the board and who sat stoically during the protest. They accused him of ignoring their demand for public consultations on what they see as anti-black racism within the police service.

They also accused the board of deliberately delaying discussion of the Loku report until late in the meeting to avoid questions.

When the protesters had left the room and the meeting resumed, Coun. Shelley Carroll disputed that accusation, saying she'd told the protesters beforehand that the discussion of the Loku report would be delayed so the board could field as many questions as possible.

A coroner's inquest was called into Loku's death in April, one month after the province's Special Investigations Unit announced the officer who shot Loku would not face any charges. The SIU does not release the names of officers it has investigated but has not charged.

In his report, SIU Director Tony Loparco, while exonerating the officers involved in the shooting, accused another Toronto police officer of inappropriate behavior after the shooting.

"Following the shooting, a member of your service saw fit to attempt to access and download video recordings captured by cameras situated on the third floor hallway where the shooting occurred," Loparco wrote. "I have not as yet heard an adequate explanation for such conduct."

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders' own report on the incident — which drew the ire of the protesters — was eventuallly discussed and accepted by the board.

That report  cleared the officer who tried to download the images, with the chief concluding that his officer's actions amounted to "appropriate scene management" and that "the officers securing the video were acting upon the direction of the Service's SIU Liaison officer. The SIU had the video examined and it was determined that there was no evidence of tampering."

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