Toronto

2 Toronto policemen who mocked woman with Down syndrome plead guilty to misconduct

Two Toronto police officers who were recorded mocking a 29-year-old woman with Down syndrome have each pleaded guilty to one count of misconduct before a disciplinary committee.

Inspector at hearing says 1 officer should be docked 5 days' pay, the other should be docked 2 days'

Two Toronto police officers who were recorded mocking Francie Munoz, 29, with Down syndrome, have each pleaded guilty to one count of misconduct before a disciplinary committee. (Chris Langenzarde/CBC)

Two Toronto police officers who were recorded mocking a 29-year-old woman with Down syndrome have each pleaded guilty to one count of misconduct before a disciplinary committee.    

Const. Sasa Sljivo and Const. Matthew Saris have entered their pleas at a police tribunal hearing packed with people supporting Francie Munoz.

Sljivo was charged with misconduct related to the use of profane, abusive or insulting language, while Saris was charged with misconduct related to the failure to report Sljivo's comments, which contravened the Ontario Human Rights Code.

The charges under the Police Services Act stem from an incident that took place in November 2016 and which the officers have called a "lapse in judgment" in a written apology.

The lawyer representing Munoz and her family has said the comments were made inside a police cruiser after the officers pulled over his clients, and were captured by the vehicle's dashboard camera. The Munoz family only learned of the comments because they decided to fight the ticket issued at the time and requested the evidence against them.

The family has said Sljivo can be heard describing Munoz as "disfigured" and a "half-person," while Saris is heard laughing and agreeing.

Family demands apology after officers caught mocking woman with down syndrome on tape. 2:40

Insp. Domenic Sinopoli, who is acting as a prosecutor at the hearing, said the officers show potential for rehabilitation, and said he hoped the complainant — Munoz's mother — also recognized that.

"We may have to simply accept that there is no 'why', that it was a momentary lapse in judgment — and we've all had those," he said. "Quite frankly, I don't know what more these officers could have done to show … that they are sorry for their actions."

Sinolpoli is recommending that Sljivo be docked five days' pay, while Saris be docked two days' pay. Both would also be required to work with the Special Olympics committee for 20 hours and undergo an hour of sensitivity training.

A decision on the penalty for the officers could take two to three months.

Munoz has also filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, arguing the officers' behaviour amounts to
discrimination.