Toronto

OPP to conduct review of Toronto police after Zameer trial

Toronto police Chief Myron Demkiw is asking the Ontario Provincial Police for an independent review into officer testimony, conduct, procedures, practices and training following a superior court judge's comments during the trial of Umar Zameer.

Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw also orders internal review into plainclothes policing procedures

Chief Myron Demkiw stands outside a courtroom in his official uniform.
Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw has asked the Ontario Provincial Police for an independent review after a Superior Court judge's comments during the trial of Umar Zameer. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

The Ontario Provincial Police say they will conduct an independent review of Toronto police after a Superior Court judge's comments during the trial of Umar Zameer.

Toronto police Chief Myron Demkiw's office said in a news release Monday that he requested a review by the OPP into officer testimony, conduct, procedures, practices and training, which he said police governance "requires" when the courts raise concerns over police conduct.

"This request is currently in the earliest stages of assessment, however we can confirm that the OPP will be conducting the review," OPP Sgt. Robert Simpson said Monday

Demkiw has also ordered a full internal review of all aspects of plainclothes policing, including equipment and procedures for officer and public safety, his office said.

"Toronto police officers know that trust must be earned every single day with every thing they do. Without trust, policing becomes infinitely more difficult," the release from the chief's office said.

The move comes a day after a jury found Zameer, 34, not guilty of all criminal charges in the death of Toronto police officer Det.-Const. Jeffrey Northrup nearly three years ago. 

On Sunday, 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 | Legal observers question decision to charge Umar Zameer for murder:

Legal observers raise questions about justice system following Umar Zameer's acquittal

2 months ago
Duration 4:18
Legal observers are questioning the decision to charge and prosecute Umar Zameer for murder in the death of a Toronto police officer when the evidence did not support it. As CBC’s Chris Glover reports, they say the case raises concerns about fair process in the justice system.

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 the 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 had said.

Zameer pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder after he ran over Northrup with his car in an underground parking garage beneath Toronto city hall that night.

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.

Judge doesn't rule out collusion

Crown prosecutors alleged Zameer made a series of deliberate and dangerous manoeuvres while protected in his locked car, killing Northrup.

Molloy told jurors before they began deliberating that it was her opinion there was no evidence to fully support the Crown's theory, but that the defence's theory aligned with the video, the experts, and the testimony of Zameer and his wife. 

She also instructed jurors to consider the possibility of collusion between the witness officers, noting all three had the same incorrect memory of what happened. 

WATCH | Toronto police chief, Northrup's widow react after Zameer found not guilty:

Police chief, widow of Toronto officer express disappointment in Zameer verdict

2 months ago
Duration 1:27
Toronto police Chief Myron Demkiw and the widow of Det.-Const. Jeffrey Northrup reacted outside the courthouse after Umar Zameer was found not guilty of murder in the 2021 death of the police officer. 'From day one, all I've wanted was accountability,' Margaret Northrup said.

Northrup's partner, then-Det. Const. Lisa Forbes, and two officers who were at the scene in an unmarked police van, constables Scharnil Pais and Antonio Correa, all testified they saw Northrup standing in the middle of the laneway with his hands up when he was run over. 

But security footage showed Northrup was not standing in the laneway. Instead, an object believed to be his body appeared on the ground in the car's path at one point.

"She has given a version of the events that didn't happen, and now two other officers have the same version somehow. That's bizarre," the judge said.

The officers have all maintained they did not discuss their evidence with anyone.

On Sunday, Demkiw said he and members of the force were "hoping for a different outcome" in Zameer's trial.

In the release Monday, he said, "As I have done my whole career, I respect the judicial process and I accept the decision of the jury. Perhaps closure in a tragic event of this magnitude will come with time."

"As Chief, I was acknowledging the emotions many of us were feeling, while struggling with the death of a fellow officer, but of course, closure can never come at the expense of justice."

With files from The Canadian Press and Rochelle Raveendran