The province’s Special Investigations Unit released a report Wednesday indicating that there were no reasonable grounds to charge a Peel Police officer involved in the shooting of 28-year-old Jamal Francique on Jan. 7, 2020, during an incident that occurred as officers tried to arrest him in front of his family home.
According to the SIU report, written by director Joseph Martino, officers from Peel Police’s Street Level Organized Crime Unit planned to arrest Francique in front of his Mississauga home after conducting ongoing surveillance due to apparent information that Francique had breached bail conditions, was trafficking drugs and had access to a firearm.
During the attempted arrest, Francique get into his car and managed to reverse out of his driveway, despite attempts to impede him with a deflation device placed under his tires and multiple units stationed in the area. In the ensuing confrontation, Francique reportedly accelerated into a police cruiser and nearly hit an officer before attempting to leave the area, leading said officer to fire four rounds in the direction of the driver’s seat.
Francique was subsequent struck in the head, and remained on life support until Jan. 10, when he succumbed to his injuries. According to the report, police did not directly engage Francique because they feared that he was armed — a later search of his vehicle revealed a semi-automatic pistol inside the vehicle.
Martino said that the officer who shot Francique, who has not been identified publicly, feared an “imminent risk” to his safety during the incident, which was the reason why he discharged his firearm — but that wasn’t good enough for the lawyer representing Francique’ s family.
There is a heavy reliance on bias leaning towards clearing police officers when admittedly directors’ comment on the fact that (they) could have done something different, yet still always rule in their favor,” said Singh, who publicly represents the family.
The incident was one of several high-profile incidents involving police and members of the Black community, including the police-involved shooting of D’Andre Campbell in Aug. 2020 during a confrontation in front of his family home. The incidents prompted community vigils and protests to bring attention to perceived imbalances in policing and arrests, with members of Francique’ s family continuing to fight for further investigation regarding the trend they see.
“This report has left my family in further disbelief in the SIU and the police force,” Derek Francique, Jamal’s father, said in a prepared statement Wednesday afternoon. “We do not want to leave our lives in your hands, because instead of helping us and giving us a reason to feel safe, you leave the families in incomplete shambles.” Derek, who participated several vigils and protests at Peel Police properties last year, said that the family has still not received pertinent information about the case, and is requesting more accountability on the part of the force. Peel Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah, commenting on the matter Wednesday, told media in a statement that, “Any time a life is lost due to an interaction with police, it is a tragedy that all involved wish could have been averted. Family and loved ones are left behind with questions and the officers involved are forced to deal with the realities of the stress these outcomes cause.”
Last year, protestors taped signs and threw red paint onto the windows and walls at 11 Division, located near the corner of Dundas and Erin Mills Parkway, in mid-December as part of an effort to raise concerns about the handling of cases involving alleged police violence in the community, and requested criminal charges be brought against the officer involved in Francique’ s shooting, as well as Campbell and other high-profile cases. “Peel Regional Police has blood on its hands,” members of a group calling themselves the Malton People’s Movement said on Dec. 13. “These families have been waiting for answers, yet all they’ve received is empty promises and criminalization.”