Jeffrey’s inquest, the long wait….

Community News & Features Jul 1, 2005 at 4:33 pm

Everyday, Willie Reodica arranges the files that contain all the relevant documents pertaining to Jeffrey’s death. He has arranged it meticulously ranging from the medical findings, the witnesses statements, letters of communication from his lawyers, press releases up to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) findings. He has everything marked, labelled and stamped with appropriate dates.

“This is the proper investigation. If they want accuracy, we have everything on file,” explained Reodica, a real estate agent, as he pointed the difference between the SIU findings and his own team’s investigation. “How can I rest when I know that all of their findings are inconsistent?”

Seventeen-year old Jeffrey Reodica was fatally shot three times in the back by an undercover policeman on May 21, 2004 in Scarborough. The Reodicas and their supporters celebrated his death anniversary with a rally at Nathan Philips Square on May 21 this year, demanding for a corner’s inquest. They believe that justice has not been served.

As he waited anxiously for the coroner’s inquest, Reodica tries to maintain his faith on Canada’s system of justice. He said, “Life must go on. My family and I have tried our best to lead a normal life”.

In a personal interview at his office in Scarborough, Reodica explained that up to now, he still mourns for his son. There is no time or day that he does not think of Jeffrey and how he died. “ We cannot make any plans for a holiday. It has been an exhilarating task for all of us to pursue justice for Jeffrey. My family and I are waiting anxiously and we do not like to leave Canada, not until we will have the coroner’s inquest scheduled.”

A recent telephone interview with Ontario’s Chief Coroner, Dr Barry McLellan, has indicated a positive response to Reodica’s demand. McLellan reassured the family and supporters of Jeffrey Reodica that a decision has been made for a coroner’s inquest although a schedule is yet to be decided. McLellan explained, “It is not unusual that it will take more than a year before an inquest is conducted. We also have to take into consideration that there are other cases ahead of the Reodicas.”

A personal interview with Deputy Chief Coroner for Inquests Dr. Bonita Porter reiterated Dr. McLellan’s statement. She clarified that all potential court processes must be complete before an inquest takes place. She further explained that the function of the Coroner’s Office is to serve public safety and public information.

“Our focus is fact finding and forward looking. The jury cannot make any findings of blame or any legal responsibility. So they’re not able to say that this person or situation is responsible for the death. It is only to answer five questions:

• WHO the individual was
• HOW he died or the medical cause of his death
• WHERE he died
• WHEN he died
• CLASSIFY the death whether it is natural, suicide, homicide or accidental.

“The only thing the jury can do is to make recommendations to prevent future deaths. They cannot make any finding that a person is responsible or accountable for the death. That’s not an inquest function.”

In response to the coroner’s statement, Reodica believes that the coroner’s inquest delay of schedule is simply “ like the SIU’s style of investigation.” Reodica said, “ The coroner promised us a schedule last year.

It is already more than a year and up to now nothing has happened. It is another ploy to get us, the ordinary civilians, mixed up. It is for them to show that they are investigating the case. In reality what good does it make if no criminal charges or prosecution is done to the subject police officer?”
Recalling the SIU findings, Reodica added, “ the SIU findings are a whitewash, perverse, inconsistent, unfair and above all very insulting to the intelligence of Filipino Canadians.”

Steadfast in his belief that justice will prevail, Reodica still looks forward with hope. “I will pursue it even if it reaches the highest court in the land. Our next step is to file civil lawsuit against these policemen responsible for Jeffrey’s death and other individuals liable. The men behind Jeffrey’s death deserve to be punished and our courts should recognize this if they believe in justice.”