The mother of a North York man who died following an interaction with Toronto police is speaking out after the province’s police watchdog determined there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against the officer involved in her son’s death.
In a statement issued on Monday, Debbie Indal alleged that members of the Toronto Police Service are “responsible” for the death of her 32-year-old son, Taresh Bobby Ramroop, who fell from the 16th floor window of a high-rise apartment building near Jane Street and Finch Avenue West during a mental health crisis on Oct. 13, 2022.
Police, however, have denied any wrongdoing and have previously said that there was no physical contact, confrontation or stand off between their officers and Ramroop prior to his fall.
It should also be noted that the Special Investigations Unit found no reasonable grounds to believe that officers committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident in a report released on Feb. 16.
Indal’s statement was issued in response to that finding.
“Our child’s blood is on the police’s hands…” Indal alleged in the statement. “My son, my baby, was my life and my bread winner.”
Joseph Martino, director of Ontario’s Special Invesigation Unit (SIU), determined that the “subject official” (SO) is not guilty of criminal negligence causing death.
He also found that police were “lawfully placed throughout their dealings with (Ramroop)” as he was throwing objects from the window to a daycare below and had told officers that he wished to die.
Martino said the complainant, as Ramroop is identified in the decision, “constituted a risk of harm to himself and others,” which he said bound officers “to do what they reasonably could to prevent that risk from materializing.”
The director also called the police and SO’s decision making and operations, including preventing Ramroop’s mother and other family members from speaking with him during the incident, “prudent and reasonable.”
Further, he said that trained negotiators assigned to speak with the Ramroop “did what they could to appease (him) and cajole him to safety.”
For her part Indal claimed that the suggestion that there was was no confrontation of any kind between the police and her son was wrong.
“They came to give commands to my son in crisis alone in his bedroom,” she said.
“That’s why they put his brother out of the apartment, so he couldn’t hear what they were doing or saying to Bobby.”
Late Monday afternoon, Toronto police provided a brief statement in response to Indal’s comments.
In it, they pointed to an Oct. 27, 2022 statement by former Toronto police Chief James Ramer that indicated that their “mandate is public safety and our singular goal in situations like these is the safe apprehension of the person in crisis, to get them the support they need.”
“The Toronto Police Service fully cooperated with this investigation and provided all video and audio recordings from the officers’ Body Worn Camera footage and all other information that the SIU requested,” spokesperson Stephanie Sayer said, noting that the full SIU report on this incident provides “detailed information regarding the professional and empathetic conduct of our officers.”
“Not only did the SIU find no reasonable grounds to believe that officers committed a criminal offence in connection with this incident, the report also notes: “The officers assigned to speak with the Complainant were each trained negotiators. There is nothing in the evidence to suggest that their conduct was substandard; on the contrary, it appears they did what they could to appease the Complainant and cajole him to safety,” she said.
Sayer went on to say that the force’s ETF officers are “highly trained in crisis negotiations and to deal with intense, dynamic situations and they acted professionally and followed their training.”
She also pointed to the SIU report, which addresses why the intervention of family members during negotiations with persons in crisis should be “approached with great caution” due to the “strong emotional ties (that) could trigger an impulsive or fateful reaction.”
“This was a tragic outcome and we send our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Taresh Ramroop,” Sayer said.
In a October 2022 statement, Toronto police said a psychiatrist was on their way to the scene at the time of Ramroop’s death.
Ramer, in those remarks, also stressed that police acted accordingly by employing a “higher level of response” as Ramroop had barricaded himself in a bedroom and due to an “elevated risk of harm,” it was not an incident where the force’s Mobile Crisis Intervention Team would be deployed to attend the scene.
Noting that the TPS’ mandate is public safety, the former police 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,” Ramer said.
“This is a tragic outcome for this man and his loved ones.”
Indal, in her statement released Monday morning, said Toronto police shouldn’t be responding to situations like the one that predated her son’s death in the first place.
“We need to stop sending them into situations they will only make worse,” she said reiterating her family’s call to abolish the police and reallocate resources to “create new responses that de-escalate and communicate with people in crisis.”
“We will never stop fighting on Bobby’s behalf and we thank people in Toronto and beyond who reached out with condolences, love, sorrow, and support,” Indal said.
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