Questions on Jeffrey slay remain

Community News & Features May 16, 2005 at 2:45 pm

TORONTO–Even as the Special Investigations Unit had long ago declared that the police officer who fatally shot Jeffrey Reodica was “legally justified” in doing so, the Reodica family and members of the Filipino community remain indignant and openly raise questions about the case. (See pages 1 and 10 about updates and the Justice for Jeffrey rally on Saturday, May 21, 2005.)

On May 2, 2005, starting at 7 p.m., the Community Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) of the Toronto Police Service’s 41 Division hosted a community meeting at the McGregor Park Community Centre in Scarbrough. Among those present at the meeting were the family of Jeffrey Reodica, who was shot by Det. Dan Belanger of 41 Division on May 21, 2004.

Also present were members of the Justice for Jeffrey Coalition and the Community Alliance for Social Justice. Ontario Filipino Women’s Association, whose president is Mrs. Elsie Maranan, sponsored the event.

In the open forum, Supt. Robert Clarke was bombarded with questions regarding the shooting of Jeffrey Reodica.

The first question was asked by Flora Reodica: When does the division dispatch plainclothes officers to respond to 911 calls? Superintendent Robert Clarke said any officer who is in the vicinity of the 911 call can respond to the call. He expressed sympathies for the Reodica family, saying, “You have my condolences… I sincerely hope you get the answers you need and deserve after the inquest.” Mrs. Reodica pointed out that an inquest into her son’s death has been promised to their family for a long time now, yet nothing has been done.

Jerry Villanueva, father of one of the witnesses to the Reodica shooting, wanted to know what the police procedure is with regard to detaining minors. His son was detained at the police station for several hours after the incident for questioning, without he and his wife being notified. Supt. Clarke replied, “I don’t know what the circumstances were around your son’s detention, but procedurally, you should have been notified.” The superintendent advised Villanueva to approach one of the officers after the forum and give his son’s name to the officer so that they can check the circumstances of his son’s detention and hopefully be able to provide him with some answers.

One man asked if martial arts training was provided by the police academy. When, the superintendent replied yes, the man asked why Det. Belanger did not just use martial arts in the confrontation with Jeffrey Reodica. Again, the superintendent said, the response of officers depends on the circumstances.

Willie Reodica asked what actions are taken with regard to a police officer against whom a complaint from a civilian has been filed. Supt. Clarke said, it depends on the situation – the officer can be suspended, or reassigned to a different division or a different department in the same division. He stated that all decisions regarding such situations are dictated by professional standards. He also added that “the inquest will provide the answers” to the Reodicas’ questions about the shooting of their son.

Finally, Mr. Reodica asked why there is differential treatment by the media between police officers who have shot civilians, and ordinary citizens who have committed murder. The superintendent then told Mr. Reodica that this was the wrong forum to be asking questions about their son’s case, and that they should ask these questions at the inquest. He said, “This is a CPLC meeting – the purpose of this meeting is to build community and police relations.”

At this point, the program emcee, Lori Metcalfe, co-chair of the 41 Division CPLC concluded the program. She thanked the audience for coming, saying, “We know there is some healing to be done… but, we need to work together in a positive way.”