Officers Won’t Apologize on Camera For Calling Woman with Down Syndrome ‘Disfigured’ and ‘Half a Person’

Activism, Corruption, Injustice, News

Francie Munoz, a young woman with Down syndrome who was mercilessly mocked and insulted by Toronto police officers on video will not be getting her requested public apology on camera according to the Toronto Police Association (TPA). The TPA has admitted wrong doing but is refusing to issue anything other than a letter signed by the offending officers which has been received by the Ms. Munoz and her family.

“The officers described Francie Munoz, 29, as “disfigured,” “different” and half a person.” Munoz, an active member of the activist in the Downs syndrome community found herself disheartened by what seemed to be a forced, insincere gesture by reluctant officers who were only remorseful for being caught.

As reported by The CBC:

Pamela Munoz, Francie’s mother, was pulled over by the two 22 Division officers in December 2016 with both of her daughters in the car for allegedly running a red light. The officer’s comments were caught on dashcam footage.

Munoz said her husband has been in touch with Mike McCormack, president of the TPA, about receiving a public apology from the officers in front of a camera, but he was told yesterday that wouldn’t be happening.

“They feel there’s no need to do it in front of a camera and if they did, if anything — maybe a written apology,” she said, adding that a written apology wouldn’t be authentic or sincere, since it could be written by a lawyer, the union or even a speech writer.

In response, McCormack told CBC Toronto that “repeated attempts were made to arrange an in-person meeting with Francie and her family.”

“Mr. Munoz made a demand that he would not meet with the officers unless there was a public shaming,” he added in a written email. He said Const. Sasa Sljivo and Matthew Saris have accepted responsibility for their comments and taken “a lot of justified criticism from the public and their peers and regret their comments.”

A written apology was sent to the family, which McCormack provided to CBC.

Disciplinary hearing set for August

Pamela Munoz called McCormack’s decision “very disappointing.”

In addition to the taped apology, which Munoz said could be done privately without reporters, the family also wants the officers to become involved with the Down syndrome community.

An investigation was completed into the incident, she said, and the two officers will face a police tribunal disciplinary hearing on Aug. 15, which all four members of the Munoz family plan to attend.

Munoz’s frustration was obvious when she spoke to CBC Toronto.

“Man up,” she said to the officers. “It’s obvious you said what you said, it’s out on tape, it’s not rocket science.”

It has not yet been revealed what is being sought as disciplinary action for the officers, but the Munoz family is hoping for better sensitivity training for law enforcement as to avoid this happening to anyone else ever again.

Better training for officers

“I feel hurt, it really hurt my feelings. I was disgusted by what they said about me,” Francie said in June.

She’d like to see police officers receive better training for dealing with people with disabilities, something she advocates for herself through the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

She appears in several campaign videos for CAMH, helping to educate people on what it’s like living with Down Syndrome.

Do you think a written apology of the treatment of Ms.Munoz is sufficient and sincere? Or do you think that the requested verbal apology would be the right thing to do? Why do you think the authorities are so reluctant to do so? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

(Article by Tasha Sharifa)

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