Written apology not good enough for mother of woman mocked by Toronto officers
Meredith MacLeod, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, July 14, 2017 2:53PM EDT
A woman with Down syndrome and her family are not satisfied with a written apology from two Toronto Police Service constables who mocked her during a traffic stop.
The family of Francie Munoz says the two officers, Sasa Sljivo and Matthew Saris, should apologize in person and allow that to be made public.
Munoz’s parents, Carlos and Pamela Munoz, also vow to file a human rights complaint against the two officers who were recorded on a dashboard camera video making insulting comments about her when her mother was pulled over in November.
Pamela Munoz requested the video through disclosure as she fought the fine for allegedly making a left-turn on a red light. She went public with the video last month, as soon as she heard the officers’ comments, which referred to Francie, 29, who was sitting in the back seat with her sister, as being “half a woman” and “disfigured.”
“Artistic. That’s going to be my new code word for different,” one officer says while laughing.
The other officer can be heard chuckling in response.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders visited with Francie and her parents last month to apologize on behalf of the service. But Pamela Munoz believes the apology should come directly from the officers involved and should be public so that everyone insulted and hurt by their remarks can hear it.
“It was a private conversation. Basically, he felt bad for what Francie had gone through so he was basically apologizing in the sense of feeling bad about what had happened,” she told CTV Toronto on Friday.
“But he can’t apologize for the officers, that’s something they need to do on their own.”
Munoz says she requested three things from Toronto police in the wake of the ordeal – a direct apology for Francie, a public apology “in front of a camera of some sort,” and that the officers at fault get involved with a charity related to developmental disabilities.
Francie wants an apology for everyone with disabilities, says her mother.
“She is upset. She’s upset that she’s not getting – and her friends aren’t getting – the public apology, because to her it’s really important that everyone that has some type of disability gets this apology,” Munoz said.
“A written statement is not going to do it for us.”
In a statement provided to the family Friday, the officers said they were offering a “sincere apology for our inexcusable remarks.”
“We take full responsibility for our actions. Our comments were inappropriate, disrespectful and unprofessional. We regret the emotional distress we caused to you, your family and the broader community. You have our assurance that our lapse in judgement will not be repeated.”
Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack says the officers have been willing to meet with Francie and her family but the exchange was not to be recorded.
McCormack said in a statement Friday that the family wants a “public shaming” of the officers.
“Constables Sljivo and Saris have accepted responsibility for their comments from the beginning and have always wished to make a personal and meaningful apology. They have taken a lot of justified criticism from the public and their peers and regret their comments.”
Sljivo and Saris face a police tribunal disciplinary hearing Aug. 15 but the service has not indicated what charges they will face.
With a report from CTV Toronto