Toronto: Cops Kill Disabled Man Out With Mother to Buy Pizza
SIU probing man’s death after police tackled him
By Michael Woods; August 03, 2011 - The Star (Toronto)
[Note from the Toronto Media Cop-op: Charles McGillivary is the latest person to die at the hands of the Toronto police. The disabled 45-year-old was walking near Christie Pits with his mother when he was tackled and handcuffed by officers. Moments later they removed the restraints and unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate him. The SIU, an almost completely ineffectual police watchdog, is investigating.]
Charles McGillivary went for one of his frequent walks with his mother around 8:30 p.m. Monday, this time to buy a slice of pizza.
But before he got the chance, the 45-year-old collapsed and died while being arrested by police at the corner of Christie and Bloor Sts.
Eyewitness accounts report the police tackling and arresting McGillivary, though it’s unclear why they did so.
An employee at Abyssinia, an Ethiopian restaurant at the corner of Bloor and Christie Sts., said she saw police pinning a handcuffed McGillivary on the ground. But almost immediately afterward, they suddenly uncuffed him and tried to resuscitate him, she said.
“They knew something was up,” she said.
The employee, who declined to be named, said McGillivary’s mother was yelling at police that her son couldn’t hear or speak properly, but police ordered her to stay back.
University of Toronto student Rachel Germain arrived after McGillivary was loaded into an ambulance. She said there were about 40 people gathered on the north side of Bloor St., some of whom had seen the whole thing and were recounting it to the others.
“Apparently at some point it was obvious the guy was dead,” she said. “It sounded like it was pretty brutal.”
According to a statement from the Special Investigations Unit, police were conducting an investigation in the area when they arrested McGillivary.
The SIU statement said McGillivary collapsed after a “physical interaction” during the arrest.
They said he was taken to Toronto Western Hospital, where he died. A post-mortem exam was conducted Tuesday.
The SIU is investigating and has named three “subject officers.” The SIU investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.
Toronto Police referred comment to the SIU, which didn’t return calls requesting comment.
McGillivary lived with his mother at Pendrith Park, a community housing unit in the Bloor and Ossington area.
A neighbour, Abosent Desse, said she’s known the McGillivarys for 13 years. She said Charles was in a car accident as a child that limited his ability to communicate.
“He listens, but he doesn’t answer,” she said, adding that he would sometimes speak quietly to his mother but no one else. They would go for walks together many times per day, she said.
“He was never any trouble . . . he was an innocent man,” she said. “He went to buy a slice of pizza, and the police grabbed him . . . that’s not fair.”
With files from Sarah Ratchford