News Toronto

No public apology coming from cops for mocking Francie

By Jane Stevenson, Toronto Sun

Toronto - 

Sorry seems to be the hardest word, at least publicly, when it comes to two Toronto Police officers caught mocking a woman with Down syndrome.

Francie Munoz, 29, was called “disfigured” and “artistic” and a “half person” by Consts. Sassa Sljivo and Matthew Saris during a traffic stop of her mother’s Jeep in November 2016 — comments that were caught on a hot mike and later made public.

Now her father, Carlos, said the family is being told there will be no verbal public apology from the officers for their behaviour.

“(Toronto Police Association president) Mike McCormack informed me that there’s no public apology forthcoming because he won’t put his officers in front of cameras or microphones or anything,” Carlos told the Sun on Thursday.

“We offered, ‘What if the officers come to the house, sort of like taped their apology and making that public?’ And he insists that that’s not going to happen. And, at most, they’ll just issue a statement that they’re going to distribute to the media saying that they’re sorry,” Francie’s upset dad added.

“How can you judge a person’s true feelings via a written statement? Whether these officers really are remorseful or sorry that they actually did this or they actually got caught?”

For his part, McCormack insists the taping of the apology at the Munoz home “was never on the table and I’d have to look at that and discuss it with the officers.”

He adds the officers have wanted to apologize personally to the Munoz family but that hasn’t been enough for Carlos.

“The guys are very good people and police officers who definitely made a terrible mistake and feel very bad about it,” said McCormack.

“We have tried a number of times to arrange a meeting with Carlos and his family. Carlos did not want to accept a personal apology from the officers. He made a demand that he would not meet the officers unless there was a public shaming. It’s about doing the right thing.”

Carlos said the family wants a public apology, a personal apology to Francie and some kind of community service with the disabled.

Given Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders already visited the family home privately and apologized to Francie, he doesn’t understand the officers’ hesitation about the public apology.

Carlos said since the family’s demands are not being met currently they plan to proceed with a human rights complaint and are speaking to their lawyer about civil action against the officers.

“We’re feeling very depressed, very upset about all this,” he said. “From the beginning, it was a bad situation that we hoped that we could turn into something positive, a learning experience. ‘Okay, you people messed up, but let this be a lesson so it doesn’t happen again.’ That’s all that we’re asking for.”

Toronto Police spokesman Meaghan Gray confirmed the officers face a disciplinary hearing and are expected to make their first appearance before a tribunal Aug. 15.

— With files from Joe Warmington