Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is a civilian agency responsible for investigating all encounters with police in the province that result in death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.
The organization has been criticized for years for its lack of transparency, the fact few police officers ever face charges, and that too many of its investigators are former police.
Calls to reform the SIU grew louder in Ontario throughout 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, as activists and progressive politicians called for police defunding and more civilian oversight. However, it appears little of that activism has translated into significant changes to how the SIU operates.
A VICE World News analysis of concluded SIU cases since Floyd’s murder shows police remain overwhelmingly cleared of wrongdoing, even though a majority of subject officers refuse to co-operate with investigators, either by refusing to be interviewed or hand over their notes.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission analyzed SIU data in 2018 and found that Black people in Toronto were significantly “over represented” in violent encounters with police. Despite Black people making up only 8.8 percent of Toronto’s population, they made up 70 percent of fatal police shootings. The SIU itself only started collecting race-based data from its investigations in October 2020.
infographic by VICE News Graphics