Black People 20 Times More Likely Than White People to Be Involved in Police Shootings in Toronto, Report Says

After researching racial profiling and discrimination, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) found "disturbing" statistics that caused them to demand immediate action.

On Monday, the OHRC released its Collective Impact, an interim report about its findings of racial disparities in how police services are provided in Toronto. It's the latest in a collection of reports, findings and recommendations that were conducted over the past 30 years relating to the concerns of anti-Black racism in Toronto policing.

"Our interim findings are disturbing and call for immediate action," OHRC Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane said.

Dr. Scot Wortley, an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto's Centre for Criminology and Sociological Studies analyzed data from the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) between the years of 2013 and 2017. By analyzing case-rates, Wortley was able to make a direct comparison between the experiences of white people and the experiences of black people.

Among his findings were that a black person was far more likely than a white person to be involved in an incident with the Toronto Police Department that resulted in serious injury or death. Wortley found that a black person was 19.5 times more likely than a white person to be involved in a police shooting that resulted in civilian death. Other discoveries about violent altercations with police included a black person was:

  • 3.1 times more likely than a white person to be involved in an SIU investigation
  • 3.6 times more likely than a white person to be involved in a police use of force case
  • 4.9 times more likely than a white person to be involved in a police shooting that resulted in serious civilian injury or death
  • 11.3 times more likely than a white person to be involved in a police use of force case that resulted in civilian death

Wortley found that in 67 percent of police use of force cases regardless of race, the suspect was unarmed. When it came to police shootings, 20 percent of white people had a gun versus 11.1 percent of black people. Although black people only make up 8.8 percent of the Toronto population, data showed that they were "grossly over-represented" in incidents involving police officers.

toronto police racial profiling
Toronto Police officers stand watch at Danforth St. at the scene of a shooting in Toronto on July 23. On Monday, the Ontario Human Rights Commission released a report that found black people were far more likely to be injured or killed during an altercation with the police COLE BURSTON/AFP/Getty Images

He found that black people made up 25.4 percent of all SIU investigations, 28.8 percent of police use of force cases and 36 percent of police shootings. Of the police use of force cases that resulted in civilian death, black people were involved 61.5 percent of the time. From 2013 until 2017, black people were also involved in 70 percent of police shootings that resulted in civilian death.

"The data is disturbing and raises serious concerns about racial discrimination in use of force," the report said. "These numbers demonstrate that Black people are disproportionately represented in incidents involving TPS use of force that resulted in serious injury or death."

During an interview with CityNews, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders acknowledged that there is a level of mistrust among the black community toward the police and that the department needs to restore that trust. Saunders added that the department is continuously working to achieve that goal and dismissed the notion that nothing is being done.

"We have done so many things historically when we look at all of our comprehensive training. Right from coming in at the gate, how we hire, the qualifications we hire with. The training is second to none for Toronto police officers," Saunders said. "I would say that we are the most trained organization when it comes to law enforcement in North America."

Saunders explained that while they look at what's going on within the department, they're also building up a community-centric service. Overall, he praised his officers for how they conduct themselves but acknowledged there can always be room for improvement.

"What people want is to be treated with respect and dignity in any interaction and that's what's critical," Saunders said.

As for the numbers in the report, Saunders said he wants to look a little bit deeper as to the intent and the conclusions that were reached.