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A Black Trans Woman Died in Police Custody and We don’t Know Her Name

519 Jane Doe
A solitary woman looks on at the 519 / Image by Jameson Mallari Atenta / graphics by author

A 30-year-old Black trans woman from Scarborough Ontario died in police custody a week ago, so why won’t police tell us her name? If not for the superb investigative skills of Joanna Lavoie reporter for Toronto.com which originally broke the story, we might never have known about her at all.

On Monday, October 26, 2020, at 6:56 a.m., police responded to the area of Bellamy Road North and Eglinton Avenue East for a report of someone trying to break into an apartment. According to Toronto Police Service (TPS) News Release they didn’t find anyone attempting to break in instead, they found a person in ‘crisis” and transported that person to a hospital where they died at 10:15 am.

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), is now probing the circumstances surrounding this individual’s death.

Toronto.com: Death of Black trans woman detained by Toronto police prompts call for info

Apparently, the TPS and the Special Investigation Unit (SUI) were contacted by a local LGBT advocacy group, The 519, which told them the victim was a “much loved 30-year-old Black trans woman.”. Despite that knowledge, the TPS and the SUI continued to misgender the woman.

This upset the members of the 519 which began a campaign asking law enforcement to stop misgendering the victim. The 519 was also rightfully troubled that the circumstances surrounding her death which haven’t been made public. In response, the 519 began a campaign using the hashtag #TPSWHATHAPPENED

But tragically for all the good intentions of the 519, we must know her name. Without her name, she will have died alone, another Jane Doe. #SayHerName

The SUI and the TPS know her name.

Ontario’s police watchdog has admitted to providing incorrect information about the gender of a 30-year-old Scarborough resident who died while in police custody, according to Toronto.com

“Investigators were finally able to connect with the family this afternoon and the Unit can now confirm that the deceased in this case is a trans woman.”

The SIU went on to say the person’s name is not being released at this time “at the request of the family.”

The 519 knows her name.

The 519 said in a press release that they know her name but are not making it public.

“Out of respect for grieving family and friends, who may or may not know of the details surrounding her death, we are not publishing her name at this time,” said the organization, which extended its “deep and heartfelt condolences” to all grieving this person’s life.

Anyone concerned about this case is invited to join in a “collective call for accountability and transparency” by supporting the #TPSWhatHappened? hashtag campaign. People are being urged to contact both 43 Division at 416-808-4300 and ask about case number 2020-2029228, and the SIU at 416-622-0748 and inquire about case number 20-TCD-284.

At this point in the investigation, the SIU said it has identified two subject officers. The civilian agency said these officers have been invited for an interview, but they have yet to respond.

According to Ontario Regulation 267/10 of the Police Services Act, subject officers cannot be legally compelled to present themselves for an interview with the SIU and they do not have to submit their notes to the SIU.

So far, the SIU said it has interviewed one officer who was designated as a witness officer.

The agency also said a post-mortem for the victim happened on Oct. 28.

Anyone with information about this investigation to contact the lead investigator at 1-800-787-8529. Anyone with any video evidence related to this incident is urged to upload that video through the SIU website.

Kelli Buseyhttps://planettransgender.com
Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


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