Dr. James Edwards
Regional Supervising Coroner
Central Region - Toronto East Office
Office of the Chief Coroner
25 Morton Schulman Avenue
Toronto, ON M3M 0B1
Re: Inquest in the death of Andrew Loku
Dear Dr. Edwards,
I write today to provide you with the views of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) as to the steps you can take to ensure that the announced Inquest into the death of Andrew Loku leads to recommendations that will prevent similar deaths in the future.
The calling of this Inquest was appropriate given the public interest in this matter. However, we are concerned that public concerns will not be addressed if the Inquest fails to examine issues of systemic discrimination that may have contributed to Mr. Loku’s death.
Pursuant to the OHRC’s function in clause 29(f) of the Human Rights Code, we encourage your office to take steps to alleviate tension and conflict in interactions between the Toronto Police Service and members of the public who are Black and/or who have a mental health disability.
Relationships between the police, Black and other racialized people, as well as people with mental health disabilities and/or addictions, are strained. Community concerns about racial profiling and discriminatory use of force have contributed to mistrust. This lack of trust has negative implications for the functioning of our justice system.
If the jury is to make worthwhile recommendations to address how police officers interact with Black men who have mental health disabilities, it is crucial that they consider the concept of racial profiling (which includes elements of anti-Black racism), the discrimination faced by people who identify on multiple Code-protected grounds (Loku was a Black man with a mental health disability), and how both of these may impact the delivery of police services to vulnerable people.
We ask that your office ensure that this letter is provided to the presiding Coroner.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.
Renu Mandhane, B.A., J.D., LL.M.
Chief Commissioner, OHRC
Copy: Hon. Madeleine Meilleur, Attorney General of Ontario
Hon. Michael Coteau, Minister Anti-Racism Directorate
Dr. Dirk Huyer, Chief Coroner