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TPS chief says he accepts verdict in Zameer trial, councillor calls for apology

After initially stating that he was “hoping for a different outcome” after Umar Zameer’s acquittal, Toronto police Chief Myron Demkiw said Tuesday that he accepts the jury’s verdict — though one city councillor says the chief should still apologize to the public for his comments.

Speaking at an unrelated news conference Tuesday morning, Demkiw again clarified the statement he made after the jury returned with a not guilty verdict in the trial examining the death of Det.-Const. Jeffrey Northrup nearly three years ago.

“In my career, I have always been a supporter of the justice process, including all elements of the system that leads us toward justice,” Demkiw said. “And while we all see closure in many different ways and as elusive as closure can be, sometimes in a court process, closure is something that we certainly look for. But as I said yesterday … closure does not come at the expense of justice.

“Let me be crystal clear — I support and accept the verdict of the jury.”

But Coun. Jon Burnside, a former member of the city’s police services board and former police officer himself, said the chief needs to fully apologize for his initial statement on Sunday, where he said he shared “the feelings of our members who were hoping for a different outcome.”

WATCH | Chief addresses review, comments after Zameer verdict:

Toronto police chief addresses Zameer verdict, independent review

3 hours ago

Duration 11:12

In a press conference Tuesday, Toronto police Chief Myron Demkiw took questions from the media regarding the trial of Umar Zameer and his request for the Ontario Provincial Police to conduct an internal review.

Speaking on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning Tuesday, Burnside said he fully supports Demkiw, and called him the best chief the city has had in 40 years.

“That said, I was very disappointed and surprised by his statement, and perplexed, really,” Burnside said. “I didn’t hear anyone, even in the police community, who thought Mr. Zameer would be found guilty.”

Judge apologized at trial

With that in mind, it would be helpful if Demkiw apologized, Burnside said.

“All he has to say is, ‘It was an emotional time … I’m sorry, I misspoke — the words I expressed were the wrong words, given this situation,’ and I think people would accept that,” he said.

On Sunday, a jury found Zameer, 34, not guilty of all criminal charges connected to Northrup’s death in 2021. Zameer had pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder after he ran over Northrup with his car in an underground parking garage beneath Toronto city hall.

Both Northrup and his partner were in plain clothes, investigating a stabbing that night. Zameer testified he didn’t know Northrup and his partner were police, instead believing his family was being ambushed by criminals. An online crowdfunding campaign started to help Zameer pay his legal bills passed the $200,000 mark Tuesday afternoon.

The trial’s judge, Justice Anne Molloy, apologized to Zameer for all that he had been through during the last three years — something one legal expert noted as significant and unusual.

WATCH | Exploring the policing questions stemming from the trial:

Police should be held accountable for handling of Zameer case: prof

5 hours ago

Duration 4:27

Ontario Provincial Police said Monday they will conduct an independent review into Toronto police testimony, conduct and procedure, after the trial of Umar Zameer. A jury found Zameer not guilty of all criminal charges in the death of a police officer nearly three years ago. CBC Toronto News at 6 host Dwight Drummond spoke with sociology professor Julius Haag about some of the criticism police are facing in the case.

After the Crown finished presenting its evidence, Molloy noted the discrepancy between the witness officers’ accounts and that of the prosecution’s expert while speaking to lawyers in the absence of the jury. At one point, she said a theory put forward by the Crown but not heard by any witnesses or experts, was “not consistent with any evidence” shown previously.

At separate points during the trial, Molloy questioned the Crown’s “morphing” position about what happened on July 2, 2021, at one point saying she didn’t see how the jury could convict Zameer of even a lesser second-degree murder charge. 

“Let’s just be blunt — I don’t see how they can get to second-degree murder on this evidence because of the expert report and video,” she said.

OPP conducting review

Burnside said Tuesday that he understands the initial charges being laid in the case, considering first-degree murder investigations can be long and involved, and lots of information tends to come out as things progress.

But forging ahead once the Crown was armed with all of the details of this case is a different story, Burnside added.

“I can’t fathom how the Crown attorney, with all that information, still proceeded to go ahead with the trial,” he said.

WATCH | Zameer speaks of a burden lifting: 

Umar Zameer’s acquittal and the tough questions it raises about justice

8 hours ago

Duration 10:19

The National speaks to Umar Zameer after his acquittal in the 2021 death of a Toronto police officer, and legal experts weigh in on concerns raised about the prosecution’s tactics.

Demkiw’s office also said in a news release issued Monday that he has requested an Ontario Provincial Police review into officer testimony, conduct, procedures, practices and training linked to the case, which he said police governance “requires” when the courts raise concerns over officer conduct.

When asked Tuesday if he would release the results of that report, Demkiw said: “You have my commitment that I’ll do everything possible to be as transparent as we can be based on what we learn through that process.”

Demkiw was also asked if any of his officers lied while testifying at the trial, and if there was any collusion between them.

“It’s completely inappropriate for me to comment on that at this stage,” he responded. “This is why there is an independent review, and we’ll let the review do the work that is required.”

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