Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has ruled that there are no reasonable grounds to believe a Toronto police officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the death of a 32-year-old North York man.
On Oct. 13, 2022, Taresh Bobby Ramroop fell from the 16th-floor window of a high-rise apartment building in the Jane and Finch area following an interaction with Toronto police. He died at the scene.
In his Feb. 16 decision, the civilian agency’s director, Joseph Martino, indicated that the offence that arose for consideration was criminal negligence causing death. Ramroop is referred to in the SIU report as the complainant.
“In the instant case, the question is whether there was a want of care of the part of the subject official (SO), sufficient egregious to attract criminal sanction, that caused or contributed to the Complainant’s death. In my view, there was not,” he wrote, adding the SO and members of the ETF team who responded to Ramroop’s address were “lawfully placed throughout their dealings with (him).”
“By throwing objects from his 16th-floor bedroom window to the ground below, which just happened to be the premises of a daycare facility, and then alerting officers that he wished to die, the Complainant constituted a risk of harm to himself and others,” Martino said.
“The officers were duty bound, in the circumstances, to do what they reasonably could to prevent that risk from materializing.”
He also noted that the police decision-making and operations that followed their arrival on scene, which were both led in the latter stages by the SO, were “prudent and reasonable.”
Martino indicated that the trained negotiators assigned to speak with the Ramroop “did what they could to appease (him) and cajole him to safety.”
Further, he said the SO made the right decision not to rappel down from the building’s roof as the Complainant was “erratic and possible armed with a knife.”
He also agreed that the police’s decision to not storm the bedroom was not a viable option “given the time it would take for officers to breach the door and the Complainant’s presence beside an open window.”
“Instead, the SO decided they would give negotiations every opportunity to work. Towards this end, arrangements were being made to have a forensic psychiatrist attend the scene to give advice on the course of the negotiations. Regrettably, the Complainant fell before the psychiatrist could attend,” said Martino, who also defended police’s decision to not allow Ramroop’s mother or other family members to speak with him as it could “trigger an impulsive or fateful reaction.”
“Given the Complainant’s state of mind at the time, I am unable to fault the SO for making the decision he did,” Martino said.
“In the result, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law in connection with the events culminating in the Complainant’s death. As such, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges. The file is closed,” he said in closing.
Last October, Ramroop’s family held a news conference to demand answers from Toronto police about the circumstances that led to his death.
They said that their loved one was suffering from “severe depression” at the time and should have been provided with better mental health support.
“On Oct. 13, 2022 our entire lives were shattered in a single second,” Ramroop’s sister Vanessa Persaud said at that time, adding her brother was attempting to flee from roughly 20 police officers who were in and around his home.
She alleges that she and several of her family members who had come to 1825 Finch Ave. W. were forcibly held by police in a superintendent’s room off the lobby and weren’t updated about the situation until their loved one was dead.
Police have not addressed that specific allegation.
“We will never understand why these weapons, tactics, and officers were necessary. … He did not deserve this ending,” Persaud said, noting her brother was “unarmed and had no drugs on him” at the time of the incident.
Ramroop’s family called for all officers involved in the Oct. 13 response, including the police official(s) who supervised and directed their actions, to be named and criminally charged; and for the TPS to release to the family all police body camera footage, audio recordings, dashcam footage, and notes from all officers involved that day.
They also called for the abolition of the TPS and the development of appropriate and caring emergency responses.
Toronto police, in a statement, said that there was no “physical contact” between the officers and Ramroop, adding a psychiatrist was on their way to the scene at the time of his death.
Former Toronto Police Chief James Ramer went on to say that officers acted accordingly by employing a “higher level of response” as Ramroop had barricaded himself in a bedroom.
He said that “given the elevated risk of harm and therefore this was not an incident where the Mobile Crisis Intervention Team would be deployed to attend the scene,” noting at no time was there any “confrontation, a “stand-off” or physical contact between the officers and the man.”
Ramer said onsite officers contacted the Emergency Task Force for help. Those officers, along with “tactical paramedics,” arrived at the scene at about 5:30 p.m. that day and “began verbal negotiations with the man, he noted, adding two of the ETF officers there were certified crisis negotiators.
The former chief said police also called in a psychiatrist, who was on route to the scene but did not arrive before the man fell from a balcony at 7:01 p.m.
Ramer would not elaborate further on the incident.
“Everything to that point and afterwards is now the subject of an independent investigation by the Special Investigations Unit and we are legally not permitted to comment further,” he said, adding TPS is “fully cooperating” with the investigation and has provided all video and audio recordings from the officers’ body-worn cameras and all other information requested by the SIU.
Noting that the TPS’ mandate is public safety, the chief said his members – in these kinds of crisis situations – aim to safely apprehend those involved and get them the “supports they need.”
“Any loss of life is deeply felt by our members, especially when working in these fraught scenarios where the people we are trained to help and protect are in crisis and there is a risk to individual and public safety, said Ramer, noting that the ETF is a “multi-faceted specialized unit that includes highly trained officers and specialists in negotiations, de-escalation and effectively working with persons in crisis.”
“This is a tragic outcome for this man and his loved ones. With that, I wish to again offer the family and friends of this man our deepest condolences for their loss.”
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