Police Killing of Rodrigo Hector Almonacid Gonzalez Raises Questions about SIU (Toronto)

On November 7, 2017, Rodrigo Hector Almonacid Gonzalez, a hospital worker and father of two young sons, died from injuries sustained in an interaction with Toronto police. Less than a day before more than ten Toronto Police officers, including a tactical squad equipped with a battering ram and shields, had forced their way into the Gonzalez home where the 43 year old occupant had apparently locked himself in his bathroom for reasons yet unknown. During the police encounter two Tasers were deployed against Gonzalez and he was taken from the building on a stretcher.

Photographs taken by Gonzalez’s wife at the hospital reveal horrific injuries including a bloody head injury, a black eye, bruising on an arm and shoulder, and what the family believes to be a Taser mark near the victim’s groin. The family was notified that Gonzalez had internal bleeding shortly before he succumbed to his injuries. His mother and wife reported than he had no injuries before police arrived. They also reported being kept from entering the apartment by police officers.

Disturbingly, despite the injuries sustained by the victim in his encounter with police and despite his death in hospital the next day, the province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), tasked with investigating all such incidents of police involved civilian harm, took five days before showing up at the apartment to investigate. The family was not told to preserve the scene in the bathroom where the encounter is believed to have occurred and it is not clear if essential evidence has been lost as a result. SIU should have attended and secured the scene directly once it was reported.

Toronto police have refused to comment on the case but an SIU spokesperson confirmed that police reported the incident the day it happened and notified the SIU when Gonzalez died the next day. No answer has been given by SIU for why it took their investigators four days to contact the family. Three SIU investigators and one forensic investigator have since been assigned to the case.

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