Fam­ily con­fi­dent SIU re­port will be dis­proved

Toronto Star - - GREATER TORONTO -

The fam­ily has spo­ken with wit­nesses, re­quested EMS re­ports, had an in­de­pen­dent au­topsy con­ducted, con­sulted with bal­lis­tic ex­perts, asked the Ministry of Health to investigate MacIsaac’s trans­porta­tion to hos­pi­tal, com­plained to the Of­fice of the In­de­pen­dent Po­lice Review Di­rec­tor, wrote to politi­cians, and met with SIU and Ministry of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral staff.

The fam­ily dis­putes much of what the SIU has said of the in­ci­dent.

One of Joanne MacIsaac’s ma­jor doubts is whether Taylor tried to deesca­late the sit­u­a­tion with her brother be­fore he was shot. Her be­lief is bol­stered by a 911 call from the scene of the shoot­ing that the fam­ily ob­tained last year and had re­viewed by a foren­sic sci­en­tist.

The fam­ily be­lieves the call con­tra­dicts the of­fi­cers’ notes and shows Taylor did not shout com­mands at MacIsaac be­fore shoot­ing him. In his notes, which the fam­ily ob­tained through a free­dom of in­for­ma­tion re­quest, Taylor wrote:

“A male was in front of me waiv­ing (sic) a metal pole. The male held the pole as if he was pre­par­ing the walk to the pole in a base­ball game. The male was scream­ing ‘Come on? Come on’ I feared for my safety and drew my ser­vice is­sued Glock. I pointed it at the male and is­sued the Po­lice Chal­lenge ‘Po­lice don’t move.’ Sub­se­quent de­mands were is­sued to drop the weapon and for the male to get on the ground.”

Taylor gave an in­ter­view to SIU in­ves­ti­ga­tors, but did not pro­vide a copy of his notes, as is his le­gal right. He wrote that he shot MacIsaac as he was ad­vanc­ing on him.

One of the wit­ness of­fi­cers, Const. Mark Brown, also said in his notes that Taylor was “yelling com­mands and iden­ti­fy­ing us as po­lice of­fi­cers.”

None of this can be heard on the 911 call, nor is it noted by the foren­sic sci­en­tist who lis­tened to it for the MacIsaacs. A voice be­lieved to be that of the po­lice of­fi­cer can be heard say­ing, “Get back, get back,” and within sec­onds, the 911 caller can be heard on the phone say­ing “Oh s---” as a bang erupts in the back­ground, and then “Oh God.”

The foren­sic sci­en­tist said two nois- es that over­lap with those words could have been gun­shots, and the fam­ily is adamant that they were.

“I’m quite con­fi­dent that we’re go­ing to prove to peo­ple that the SIU’s con­clu­sion and ver­sion of events are not ac­cu­rate,” MacIsaac said last week.

It’s un­clear if the SIU lis­tened to the call as part of its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Michael’s death. Both the agency and Durham po­lice de­clined to com­ment for this ar­ti­cle be­cause of the pend­ing in­quest.

Since MacIsaac’s shoot­ing, and es- pe­cially af­ter the SIU an­nounced in 2014 that no crim­i­nal charges would be laid, Joanne MacIsaac has be­come close with a num­ber of other fam­i­lies who have lost rel­a­tives to a po­lice shoot­ing.

She said she’s done her best to help them nav­i­gate the var­i­ous po­lice over­sight bod­ies and to get an­swers.

“It’s al­ways sad when there’s another fam­ily that reaches out, it means the sys­tem has failed again, but it makes me feel a lit­tle happy to at least be able to per­haps guide them, be­cause there is no man­ual to be guided through this process,” she said.

“We’re a unique group in the way that these deaths are very pub­lic, and un­der a lot of scru­tiny. And you have peo­ple who, no mat­ter what hap­pens, will al­ways back the po­lice, and you have peo­ple on the other side too. You’re hand­cuffed to the sys­tem for many years (af­ter the death).” Rec­om­men­da­tions from an in­quest jury are not bind­ing on author­i­ties, but Joanne MacIsaac said her fam­ily will be do­ing ev­ery­thing they can to make sure what is rec­om­mended ac­tu­ally gets im­ple­mented.

One rec­om­men­da­tion that she is hop­ing does not emerge from the in­quest is that all front-line of­fi­cers should be equipped with Tasers, a rec­om­men­da­tion by the jury at the re­cent in­quest into the Toronto po­lice shoot­ing death of An­drew Loku.

“In or­der to en­cour­age de-es­ca­la­tion, we’re go­ing to give these men and women another in­stru­ment to use against the pub­lic? I don’t think so,” she said.

The in­quest will also be the first time Joanne MacIsaac has come face to face with the man who killed her brother.

“Do I hold him ac­count­able? Yes, he pulled the trig­ger, but I think there are so many other vari­ables, so many other things that went wrong that day, that other peo­ple did that led to this out­come. Things that need to be pre­vented so that this never hap­pens again.”

RENÉ JOHN­STON/TORONTO STAR

Joanne MacIsaac and her fam­ily have in­vested tens of thou­sands of dol­lars try­ing to un­ravel what hap­pened.

Michael MacIsaac was shot by po­lice on Dec. 2, 2013, while run­ning naked through his Ajax sub­urb.

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