Fam­ily of man shot dead by po­lice, anx­ious for SIU re­port

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - JACQUES GAL­LANT

Ten months af­ter the death of their brother An­thony, the Divers fam­ily is still no closer to find­ing out if the Hamil­ton po­lice of­fi­cer who shot him will be charged.

“The po­lice and the (Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tions Unit) know what hap­pened that night, but I’m his brother, and his two sis­ters, and we don’t have a clue, al­most a year later, what hap­pened on Sept. 30,” Divers’ brother, Ed­ward, said.

The SIU, the in­de­pen­dent agency that in­ves­ti­gates po­lice-in­volved deaths, se­ri­ous in­juries and al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault, has yet to pro­duce a de­ci­sion in the Divers case.

De­lay in SIU cases was re­cently ad-

dressed in a sweep­ing re­view of On­tario po­lice over­sight bod­ies, which rec­om­mended tighter time­lines for com­plet­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

The wait for the Divers fam­ily has been made worse, they said, by SIU in­ves­ti­ga­tors im­ply­ing to them that a de­ci­sion is forth­com­ing.

One lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor told them in De­cem­ber that his re­port was on SIU di­rec­tor Tony Loparco’s desk, wait­ing for ap­proval, the fam­ily said. But seven months later, still noth­ing.

“They said in De­cem­ber they had a de­ci­sion, and now they’re stalling and stalling even more,” said one of Divers’ sis­ters, Les­lie Wil­son.

The SIU did not re­spond to the Star’s re­quest for com­ment for this ar­ti­cle. A spokesper­son told the Star in De­cem­ber the SIU at­tempts to con­clude in­ves­ti­ga­tions as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“The SIU has been in reg­u­lar con­tact with two of Mr. Divers’ sib­lings. All com­mu­ni­ca­tions have been prompt, cour­te­ous, pro­fes­sional and as trans­par­ent as pos­si­ble given the lim­i­ta­tions dur­ing an on­go­ing SIU in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” Mon­ica Hudon said at the time.

Divers, 36, was shot and killed around mid­night Sept. 30 by a Hamil­ton po­lice of­fi­cer who was re­spond­ing to a call about a man who had com­mit­ted an as­sault and was re­port­edly armed with a gun, ac­cord­ing to the SIU.

“There was an in­ter­ac­tion and the of­fi­cer dis­charged his firearm,” said a brief news re­lease is­sued by the SIU last fall.

The fam­ily said they be­lieve, based on an eye­wit­ness whom they spoke to, that Divers was not armed that night. Two eye­wit­nesses in­ter­viewed by The Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor also said they did not see a weapon.

Divers, who had men­tal health is­sues, was clearly in cri­sis, his fam­ily says.

The fam­ily has been per­sis­tent in their at­tempts to get an­swers as to what hap­pened that night. They call the SIU weekly, and in June two in­ves­ti­ga­tors came to speak with them in per­son, yet had no fi­nal de­ci­sion to share.

“It was al­most like giv­ing us false hope,” said Divers’ el­dest sis­ter, Yvonne Alexan­der.

She has so far been un­suc­cess­ful in reach­ing Loparco, the SIU di­rec­tor, de­spite her many phone calls, she said.

“Is this guy like God? He doesn’t even talk to you.”

The fam­ily said the un­cer­tainty has ex­ac­er­bated their grief. Birth­days are hardly cel­e­brated, and they only re­ally marked Christ­mas for the sake of the chil­dren.

“Are we go­ing to get jus­tice for Tony?” Alexan­der asks. “Ten months of my life seems like 10 years of my life ... I can’t en­joy any­thing, be­cause 24/7 my brother is on my mind.

“We want a de­ci­sion, to start the new nor­mal with­out our brother ... How can I grieve? I don’t even know what the hell hap­pened to my brother, so I that I could put facts to­gether and grieve my loss.”

The SIU has long faced crit­i­cism not only from af­fected fam­i­lies, but from po­lice as­so­ci­a­tions as well, for tak­ing too long with probes.

The fi­nal re­port from a sweep­ing re­view of po­lice over­sight bod­ies, made pub­lic in April, by Jus­tice Michael Tul­loch rec­om­mended that the SIU aim to con­clude in­ves­ti­ga­tions and re­port the re­sults to the pub­lic within 120 days.

If the SIU is un­able to com­plete a probe in 120 days, it should re­port its sta­tus to the pub­lic, and then every 60 days there­after, Tul­loch said.

A spokesper­son for the Min­istry of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral told the Toronto Star on Fri­day that the gov­ern­ment is work­ing on new po­lice over­sight leg­is­la­tion and that Tul­loch’s rec­om­men­da­tions, “in­clud­ing those about pub­lic out­reach and time­lines, are un­der ac­tive con­sid­er­a­tion as part of the on­go­ing work to be ready to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion in the fall.”

The SIU has al­ready pub­licly stated that it would need ad­di­tional re­sources to meet Tul­loch’s rec­om­mended time­lines.

An­thony Divers

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