Activists dismayed by allegations of police involvement in the death of 29-year-old Regis Korchinski-Paquet, who fell from the 24th-floor balcony of a Toronto apartment building on Wednesday evening, are starting to organize vigils and protests in honour of the young black woman.
Ontario's Special Investigations Unit announced late Wednesday night that they have opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Korchinski-Paquet's death, which occurred while Toronto Police officers were inside her apartment at 100 High Park Avenue.
The police watchdog agency says that officers "observed a woman on the balcony" while they were inside the 24th floor unit and that "a short time later, the woman fell from the balcony to the ground below" where she was pronounced deceased.
Heartbroken family members and witnesses, including the young woman's mother, brother and cousin, have since spoken out via social media to say that they believe Toronto Police officers pushed or threw Korchinski-Paquet from the balcony.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders issued a statement in response to these serious allegations Thursday morning, noting that he could not comment on the incident due to it being the subject of an active SIU investigation.
"We know this incident has caused a great deal of concern and our thoughts are with the family and the community," said Saunders, calling the situation "tragic."
"Let me be very clear that we want the facts as much as anyone. The Toronto Police Service is fully co-operating with the Special Investigations Unit."
Citizens are nonetheless demanding immediate justice and transparency from police and government officials.