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Release entire SIU report into Andrew Loku's death, activist tells Kathleen Wynne

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne should release the entire Special Investigations Unit report into the death of Andrew Loku if she wants to show respect to his family, says a Toronto activist.

Partially released report includes no information from civilian witnesses

Desmond Cole, Toronto activist and journalist, accuses the Ontario government of trying to protect the police. He says Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is trying to be transparent but is not succeeding. (CBC)

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne should release the entire Special Investigations Unit report into the death of Andrew Loku if she wants to show respect to his family, says a Toronto journalist and activist.

"There's a lot that's being hidden," Desmond Cole told Metro Morning on Monday.

"This is on Kathleen Wynne. She was the one who went onto the lawn of Queen's Park with Black Lives Matter and said accountability and transparency were coming. This is on her now."

Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney General released 10 censored pages on Friday of the SIU report into the police shooting death of Loku, a Toronto father of five who was killed by police on July 5, 2015, at 502 Gilbert Avenue, near Eglinton Avenue West and Caledonia Road.

Cole said Ontario's Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur is also responsible.

"The disrespect they have shown Andrew Loku and his family, by releasing this report in this way, it's not going to stand," he said.

Loku allegedly refused to comply with police demands to drop a hammer and threatened to kill a friend of a guest in the apartment.

Cole said the partial release of the report raises more questions than it answers and creates confusion.

Given that pages were censored, the entire report was not released and the incomplete report was released on a Friday afternoon, Cole said it indicates the government wants to protect the police officers involved.

"Everybody is afraid of the police actually. That's the message here. Holding the police accountable is what the government is supposed to be doing and what the SIU is supposed to be doing. Rather than doing that, they are actually trying to protect the police," Cole said.

The pages released do not include the names and testimony from 15 civilian witnesses, at least two of which were in the hallway where Loku was shot and killed, Cole said.

"They want us to hear the police's side of what happened to Andrew Loku, which is that he rushed at officers with a hammer while goading them on to shoot him. But they don't want us to hear what the eyewitnesses who are civilians have to say," he said.

For example, Cole said, one eyewitness has said Loku was shocked that police were in the hallway near his apartment with guns drawn and apparently said: "What are you going to do, shoot me?" 

According to the partially released report, Loku reportedly said: "What you gonna do, come on, shoot me."

"The government only wants you to hear the police version of events, not those witnesses version, and I don't understand why," said Cole.

The partially released report also reveals that one officer tried to obtain and access videotape from the third-floor hallway where Loku was killed. 

In the report, SIU director Tony Loparco wrote: "This case is a classic example of how conduct in question detracts from community confidence."

Loparco said the "post-incident" conduct "threatened to publicly compromise the credibility of the SIU's investigation."

Cole said it's clear the police violated their own rules.

"The biggest thing to come out of this report is that the Toronto police attempted to download and access video from Andrew Loku's apartment before the SIU could get there,"he said. 

"What that means is, there was a video of at least part of this incident, something that may have been useful, and the police tried to get it before the police investigators got there, which is against all of their rules."

Police conduct raises suspicion

Ian Scott, former director of th SIU from 2008 to 2013, said police need to "freeze" the scene and the SIU has to be the lead investigation when it is called upon to probe cases of death, serious injury or sexual assault involving police. 

An officer trying to access videotape of the incident raises suspicion, Scott said.

"You end up with potentially a compromise in the integrity of the investigation," he said. "It creates an aura of suspicion and you don't want that."

Scott said the current SIU director needs to write a complaint letter to Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders.

"I had written to then police chief Bill Blair over 100 letters in my time articulating about what I considered breaches of regulations of the Police Services Act dealing with the SIU and asked for a written response. And I only received a lacklustre response to one of those."

The SIU, he said, is not a disciplinary body, and the problem is the police are reluctant to investigate public complaints involving police. "Their heart is not in it," Scott said.

The partially released report says Loku had a blood alcohol level nearly three times over the legal limit. 


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