Family of Mississauga man sues police, paramedics and SIU over his death
Published July 8, 2022 at 4:04 pm
The family of a 28-year-old man killed by police in Mississauga has filed a lawsuit over his death, alleging negligence on the part of the force, local paramedics and the province’s police watchdog.
Peel Regional Police shot Jamal Francique, a Black man, during an arrest attempt on Jan. 7, 2020. He died in hospital two days later.
The Special Investigations Unit – which investigates police conduct after a death, serious injury, sexual assault or the firing of a gun at someone – cleared officers of wrongdoing in Francique’s death last year. Police were investigating Francique for allegedly dealing drugs and possessing a gun, the SIU said in its report.
Francique’s family alleges police use excessive force against the young man.
“To the Peel Regional Police Services, Jamal was nothing more than an armed Black man trying to escape police apprehension,” the suit filed last week alleges.
Peel Regional Police and the Region of Peel did not immediately provide comment and the SIU said it stood by its investigation.
On Jan. 7, 2020, several plainclothes officers and their unmarked cars gathered near Francique’s home in Mississauga. They could not confirm if he had a gun or was dealing drugs, but decided to arrest him for allegedly breaching bail conditions, the SIU said.
The family’s statement of claim said officers watched Francique leave home and walk 200 metres to his car in a nearby lot. Police did not make a move until he was driving his car, the claim said, and Francique was then hemmed in by police on foot and two unmarked cars.
The officers did not identify themselves as police, the claim alleges, and one officer fired four shots at the car, with one bullet hitting Francique’s head.
The claim alleges Francique posed no threat to the officers who did not see a gun or weapon on him.
“Rather than retreat or disengage from the vehicle, (the) Subject Officer fired four shots in rapid succession into Jamal’s vehicle, striking Jamal at least once in his head. Jamal was fatally wounded,” the claim said.
“Considering all the circumstances, the use of lethal force against Jamal was excessive, unnecessary and unlawful.”
The SIU report said officers believed Francique was an imminent threat, which the family’s lawsuit questions.
The suit claims police have never fully explained why officers initially approached Francique “in such a hostile manner with unmarked vehicles and discharged weapons that would undoubtedly leave Jamal feeling confined, confused and fearing for his life and safety as a Black man confronted by white police officers.”
The statement of claim alleges the officer who shot Francique “subconsciously or consciously acted on racist beliefs when he overestimated the threat posed by Jamal and applied excessive force.”
The SIU report said officers were fearful Francique had a gun.
Neither police nor paramedics approached the car for 20 minutes, the suit alleges.
The suit alleges one officer pulled Francique from the car then repeatedly kicked him as he lay unconscious on the ground.
The suit also alleges Peel paramedics failed to “provide the necessaries of life” for 20 minutes while Francique bled out.
“When the ambulance was finally called, Jamal was subjected to further negligence and injury,” the claim alleges. “He was further deprived of necessary, life-saving medical care when a decision was made to transport him to St. Michael’s Hospital, located 34 km and approximately 33 minutes away from the scene, while Credit Valley Hospital was only 2.3 km from the scene.”
The family also takes issue with the SIU’s investigation and its report.
The suit alleges the SIU took more than three hours to show up at the scene, which it claimed “severely compromised” the credibility and reliability of the evidence gathered. The suit also alleges the SIU did not meet with the officer who shot Francique for nearly two hours.
The suit notes some discrepancies in the SIU report.
The SIU said twice that Francique was shot at 5:45 p.m., but also said officers were about to arrest Francique at 7:44 p.m. The report also said officers found a gun in Francique’s waistband, but at another point mentions the gun was found inside his satchel.
The family alleges the SIU did not conduct “a thorough, fair and unbiased investigation.”
“The SIU report is an example of how insensitive, uninterested and dismissive the agency is that is supposed to provide confidence and accountability in policing,” the suit said.
The SIU said it was not yet aware of the lawsuit.
“The unit stands by the integrity of its investigation, and would file a statement of defence,” spokeswoman Monica Hudon wrote in a statement.
The family is seeking $101 million in damages.
“The hope is a significant financial award will deter Peel Police and other police agencies from condoning and participating in this type of excessive force and malicious prosecution that leads to death,” the suit said.insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising