The police watchdog will not press charges against officers in the death of Taresh Bobby Ramroop
The Ontario Police Department will not file criminal charges against Toronto Police in the death of Taresh Bobby Ramroop, who fell from a Toronto skyscraper last fall.
In a press release Thursday, the Special Investigations Unit said its director, Joseph Martino, had found “no reasonable grounds” to believe a Toronto police officer had committed a crime in connection with the Oct. 13 death.
In the days following his death, family and friends of Ramroop rallied outside the apartment building where he died, demanding police be held accountable and saying what their loved one needed was help with their mental health – no response the police.
No such help came, they claimed. They shouldn’t have spoken to Ramroop even in the last hours of his life, they said.
At this point, Martino noted that he could not blame the officer involved, who was later investigated by the SIU, because he chose not to involve Ramroop’s mother or other family members.
“Best practices in this area of policing suggest that the intervention of a family member in negotiations must be approached with great caution and assessed on a case-by-case basis, as strong emotional ties could trigger an impulsive or fateful response,” Martino wrote.
Ramroop was unarmed, the family says
Why no mobile crisis team was sent is not a viable option, “given the possibility that a knife was involved”.
Neither police nor the SIU initially mentioned a gun in Ramroop’s case.
The report said one of the officers noticed a knife was missing from a knife block in the apartment and that Ramroop’s brother said it may have been in the laundry.
His family said Ramroop was unarmed and, while suffering from depression, had no intention of ending his life.
The report points to audio and video footage in which Ramroop told police he believed they had “rigged” the internet so he couldn’t call for help.
At another point, Ramroop was recorded saying, “Things are so dark man I don’t know. No matter what happens, there is no normal life for me.”
The report also describes family members going in and out of various points in the superintendent’s office to use the washroom, contrary to family claims they were forced to wait in a locked office for six hours when themselves the incident played out.
News of the decision comes a day after Toronto City Councilors passed Mayor John Tory’s entire $16.1 billion spending package that included controversial increases in the police budget, despite efforts by some councilors to force a cut included.
Toronto has faced growing calls in recent years to cut the city’s more than $1 billion police budget. Toronto police receive approximately 33,000 mental health calls annually. But as previously reported, at least one lawyer has pointed out that not enough such calls are being routed to crisis workers.
Ramroop of ‘insane mind’ when police arrived: file a complaint
Police officers were called to the building in the Jane Street and Finch Avenue West area just before 4:30 p.m. after multiple reports that a person had thrown furniture from a 16th-floor balcony. Callers feared someone downstairs might get hurt, the SIU said in its report.
Photos of the scene showed personal belongings scattered about a children’s playground near a street-level daycare.
The report notes that Ramroop, whom it refers to as the “complainant”, was “mentally ill at the time”.
In the early afternoon, Ramroop himself had called 911 because someone had broken into his home. According to the report, he “sounded paranoid and delusional at the time.”
“He had mentioned conspiracies and heard ‘silent noises’ before hanging up the phone,” the report said.
Two officers arrived at Ramroop’s home around 4.50pm using a key provided by the superintendent, the report said. Inside, Ramroop’s brother told them Ramroop was alone in his bedroom.
For the next half hour, officers attempted to communicate with Ramroop through the closed bedroom door, telling him to stop throwing objects, the report said. Ramroop told police to leave and continued to throw things. At one point he told the police he wanted them to shoot him, it continued.
Meanwhile, a third officer arrived and decided to call in the emergency task force, who arrived around 5:30 p.m. The officer later investigated by the SIU was a member of the ETF, the report said.
Psychiatrist didn’t come before Ramroop’s death: report
The ETF considered abseiling from the roof of the building into the apartment but ultimately decided against that option in case Ramroop might be armed, the report said, adding: “The sergeant eventually decided that officers should not go into the apartment.” apartment unless the complainant was in some form of medical emergency.”
The report notes that in the absence of any viable means of getting to Ramroop, “arrangements were made for a forensic psychiatrist to be present at the scene to offer advice on how the proceedings were going.
“Unfortunately, the applicant fell before the psychiatrist could come.”
Meanwhile, two other police officers replaced the first two who were in the home and offered Ramroop food and drink and medical attention.
Ramroop accepted orange juice, which was handed to him through a hole drilled in the bedroom door. He asked to speak to his mother and brother. He was told he could do that but had to leave the bedroom first.
Around 6:40 p.m., the report said, Ramroop’s behavior became “increasingly reckless.” He climbed in and out through the open window and hung out the window. An officer begged him to go back inside, saying they didn’t want him to die. The report states that Ramroop has taken himself to safety twice.
The third time, at around 7:01 p.m., he lost his footing and fell 16 stories to his death.
Paramedics rushed to him, but he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. His preliminary cause of death was ruled “multiple trauma,” the report said.
Ramroop’s case appears to bear similarities to the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, who fell from the balcony of her 24th-floor apartment in May 2020 after her mother called 911 and said her daughter needed help.
The SIU later acquitted the five officers involved that day of wrongdoing, saying that while their efforts to de-escalate the situation were unsuccessful, none broke the law.