Families of Black men killed by police in the GTA say the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder leaves them with many mixed emotions.
They feel, unlike in Floyd’s case, those responsible in their cases have not been held accountable and their loved ones have been largely forgotten.
Derek Francique and Anne Marie White broke into tears as they described their son Jamal.
“He was beautiful. He was kind, had the biggest heart,” White said.
“I’m never going to see him smile, I’m never going to see him ride his bike, his motorcycle, I’m never going to see him come into my house and speak to me, I’m never going to see him hug me and hold me and kiss me,” Derek Francique said. “My son died. I don’t got him. And I have to live with that.”
Jamal Francique, 28, was shot by a Peel police officer on January 7, 2020 in Mississauga. It happened while police were trying to arrest him for allegedly breaching bail conditions.
The Special Investigations Unit said officers in plainclothes and unmarked vehicles attempted to block in Jamal Francique after he got into his car. At that time, he allegedly accelerated and struck one car and was approaching another when an officer on foot shot him four times.
The police watchdog said the officers did not approach the car for fears of a gun and waited two hours for the tactical team to arrive.
At that point, Jamal Francique was found to have been shot in the head and taken to hospital where he later died.
Ontario’s police watchdog determined that no charges will be laid. A lawyer for the family is now calling on the SIU to reopen the case, saying its decision was made based on a flawed investigation.
Mistrust in police
Derek Francique, who now suffers from post traumatic stress disorder following the loss of his son, said the incident has eviscerated his trust in the police.
“It’s very difficult to see a police officer around me. I wondering if he’s going to try and kill me,” he said.
His fears are echoed by Rose Mono.
“What are we going to do? I’m just thinking about my kid too. [What if] something happened like happened to my brother? Just because my kid is Black,” she said.
Mono’s brother Andrew Loku, who suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and depression, was fatally shot by a Toronto police officer nearly six years ago.
Police were called to an apartment building around midnight on July 15, 2015 because of a complaint that Loku had allegedly threatened a neighbour with a hammer.
The SIU said that the officer who pulled the trigger told him to drop the hammer but instead Loku advanced towards him with the tool raised.
No charges were laid. The jury in a coroner’s inquest into the case later ruled the killing was a homicide; however, the verdict carried no criminal or civil liability.
The jury made dozens of recommendations including officer training in regards to overt and subconscious racist attitudes as well as mental health issues.
“Why did they have to kill my brother?” Mono asked. “Why couldn’t they have taken him to a hospital?”
“I lost my brother. I don’t have anyone calling me on Christmas Day, nobody calls me on my birthday. I lost everything.”
‘They should speak the names of people like my son’
Families say the conversations and activism that have resulted from George Floyd’s death have been significant but they wonder why there hasn’t been as much attention paid to Canadians who’ve been killed by police.
“[When] it happens in America, everybody stands up,” Andrew Loku’s nephew Mono Alam said. “People that lost their lives in Canada here, they should be acknowledged and not just be left behind and forgotten because they still matter.”
“I have much respect for the American situation that has happened but we do have Canadian situations that have happened and do need to be spoken about,” Derek Francique said.
“They should speak the names of the people like my son Jamal Francique. I’m still longing for the Raptors to chant, the Maple Leafs to say, the Blue Jays to holler out, take a time out, to mention their names like they took the time out to mention George Floyd.”
Both families emphasize they are very grateful for the movement that was started because of Floyd because it gave them the strength to keep fighting in the name of their loved ones.