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3 Toronto cops failed to do proper investigation into calls at shelter, where woman was later found dead in a room with alleged killer: tribunal docs

Three Toronto police officers are facing misconduct charges after allegedly failing to investigate properly calls for service at a North York shelter, where a woman was later found dead in a room with her alleged killer last summer.

Notices of Hearing provided to CP24 documents what allegedly transpired at the shelter on June 29, 2023, involving constables Adam Yurkiw, Victor Lai and Sivapragasam Sivachandrian.

Shelter staff first called the police on June 28 shortly after 9:30 p.m. for two occupants who refused to leave the building. No units were available until the following day at 7:25 a.m. when Const. Sivachandrian and his partner responded. The documents said Sivachandrian was the “coach officer” for his partner, who had recently become a police officer.

Dispatch informed the two of them that a male and a female occupant were known drug users and had barricaded themselves in the room, according to the tribunal documents. The two were also advised that one of the occupants had an outstanding warrant.

Sivachandrian and his partner arrived at the shelter at 7:42 a.m. and met the duty manager on shift, who was unaware of the pending call.

After the manager failed to contact the night staff who placed the call, Sivachandrian cleared the scene at 7:55 a.m. and closed the call with a disposition of “No Action Required.” The documents allege he never investigated the matter and did not take action, including knocking on the door or attempting to interact with the occupants.

Eighteen minutes after Sivachandrian and his partner left, shelter staff contacted police again, but because no units were available at the time, the call was pending until 4:43 p.m.

Constables Adam Yurkiw and Victor Lai were dispatched to the shelter. When they arrived just after 5 p.m., staff informed the officers that the two occupants refused to open the door and had locked the door. Staff told the officers that the two occupants robbed another shelter occupant and caused damage to the building.

Staff also expressed concerns to Yurkiw and Lai regarding the welfare of the female occupant barricaded in the room because they had not heard from or seen her in two days.

According to the documents, the two officers contacted their supervisor to request additional assistance even though they were already equipped with “use of force of options,” including a rifle and a less lethal shotgun.

The supervisor informed the two that there were no additional officers and that the first available unit wouldn’t be sent until 6 p.m. The documents stated that Yurkiw and Lai left the scene at 5:49 p.m., telling shelter staff that police would return in about an hour with more officers.

The two allegedly failed to do numerous things before they left, including attending the room the occupants were in, engaging with them, remaining on scene until further units arrived and communicating to their supervisor the staff’s concerns about the female occupant’s welfare. The call was left pending until 11:51 a.m. the next day, when members of the Emergency Task Force (ETF) responded to the scene.

ETF gained entry to the room and discovered the female occupant had been murdered by the male occupant, according to the documents.

All three officers who work at 33 Division have been charged with misconduct for allegedly failing to perform their duties by not conducting a proper investigation into the radio call despite having information about the barricaded occupants and one of them possibly being in danger.

Further, the documents say they committed misconduct in that they “did act in a disorderly manner or in a manner prejudicial to discipline or likely to bring discredit upon the reputation of the Toronto Police Service.”

The three officers are also being accused of insubordination after they did not activate their body-worn cameras on the scene while interacting with shelter staff.

In addition, Yurkiw is facing a misconduct charge for allegedly failing to inform his supervisor of the staff’s concerns about the well-being of the female occupant when he called for backup. The sergeant “was left with the impression that you were simply dealing with two occupants that refused to leave,” according to the documents.

None of the allegations have been proven in tribunal court.

Meanwhile, police had charged a 43-year-old man with second-degree murder in the death of the woman.