Family of man killed by Peel police files $101-million lawsuit

The family of a Mississauga man killed by Peel police in 2020 has filed a $101-million lawsuit alleging negligence by a string of individuals and public agencies including the officer who shot him, the police service, paramedics, Peel Region, Ontario’s police watchdog, provincial government agencies and the Progressive Conservative Party.

Jamal Francique Jr., 28, was shot and killed after Peel officers were called to his Mississauga home on Jan. 7, 2020, over an alleged breach of bail conditions. The officer who killed Francique was later cleared of criminal wrongdoing following an investigation by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU).

Francique was unarmed and “posed no threat of force or resistance to the officers” before his death, the family’s lawsuit claims, alleging officers acted with malice and used excessive and unlawful force. Francique’s death involved a pattern of “highly dangerous and racialized policing tactics” supported by a systemic lack of training and accountability within the police service, provincial and municipal bodies, and the SIU, the claims states.

“Their negligence caused the death of my beautiful son,” Francique’s mother, Ann-Marie White, told the Star.

No amount of money will bring back my son, added father Derek Francique. “That should’ve never happened to my child,” he said. “I could’ve asked for a billion dollars and it’s still not enough.”

The family’s statement of claim, which was filed in a Brampton court on June 30, has yet to be tested and the various defendants have not yet filed statements of defence. Those defendants were served legal documents this week, said family lawyer Knia Singh.

Peel police spokesperson Jennifer Dagg said the service “can confirm we were served June 6 and we will be responding accordingly.”

SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon said Thursday the watchdog was “not yet aware of the civil suit.” She added: “The Unit stands by the integrity of its investigation, and would file a statement of defence. As the matter is potentially a court matter, it would be inappropriate to make any further comment.”

Peel Region has received the claim and is working with legal counsel to address the claim, said spokesperson Bethany Lee, speaking on behalf of the region and Peel paramedics.

“As this matter is subject to litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further,” said Brian Gray, a spokesperson with the Attorney General of Ontario.

In 2021, the SIU found no reasonable grounds to believe that the unidentified “subject officer” who killed Francique committed a criminal offence. The officer fired “to ward off what he believed was an imminent risk to his life” as Francique drove toward officers, the SIU found in its final report.

According to the report, one of several witness officers jumped out of the way of Francique’s car, saying she feared for her life.

The subject officer fired several shots at the windshield of the Acura, hitting Francique in the head. He died in hospital three days later.

The SIU is an independent civilian watchdog tasked with investigating serious injury, death or allegations of sexual assault involving Ontario police officers.

The family lawsuit claims the SIU report was compromised by investigative delay and contained several “inaccuracies, inconsistencies, omissions and contradictions.”

Peel Region, the lawsuit claims, has failed to address “the long-standing issue of Peel Police using excessive force and violence against the members of the Black community.”

The statement of claim adds that Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives are liable for their “deliberate” 2018 move to kill a sweeping series of police oversight reforms.

“They’re all partially responsible for Jamal’s death,” said Singh, the family lawyer.

The family’s statement of claim concludes: “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.”

Francique was one of three men shot and killed by Peel officers in separate high-profile 2020 incidents. The SIU has also cleared officers of criminal wrongdoing in the deaths of D’Andre Campbell, 26 and Ejaz Choudry, 62.

Late last month, the family of Regis Korchinski-Paquet filed a $10-million civil lawsuit against numerous parties including the five Toronto police officers who were present when the 29-year-old Afro-Indigenous woman died after falling from a High Park highrise.

The SIU, which cleared the Toronto officers of wrongdoing, is also named in the Korchinski-Paquet family lawsuit.

In his conclusion in the report on Francique’s death, SIU Director Joseph Martino wrote that while he accepted that the Peel officer had the option to withdraw from the situation, he had only moments to make a decision in a highly fraught situation.

“The officer’s decision may not have been the only one available in the moment, but neither was it unreasonable,” Martino wrote.

Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. Reach him on email: [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpic

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