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Questions swirl about how Toronto woman fell from balcony as family points fingers at police

Questions are swirling about exactly what happened to a woman who fell to her death from an apartment balcony in Toronto’s High Park neighbourhood on Wednesday.

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is looking into the woman’s death. It issued a news release saying Toronto police were called to the building at 100 High Park Avenue around 5:15 p.m. for “a domestic incident” on the 24th floor.

While officers were inside the apartment unit they “observed a woman on the balcony,” the SIU said. “A short time later, the woman fell from the balcony to the ground below. She was pronounced dead at the scene.”

Family members have identified the woman who died as Regis Korchinski-Paquet. She was 29.

The SIU issued a second news release Thursday saying it’s now aware of allegations made by Korchinski-Paquet’s family members that the young woman was pushed from the balcony. Those allegations were first made in videos posted on social media that were widely-circulated.

In one video, Korchinski-Paquet’s mother, Claudette Beals, says “the police killed my daughter.”

CBC Toronto spoke with numerous family members who had gathered outside the apartment building to mourn in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. (Sannah Choi/CBC)

CBC Toronto spoke with numerous family members who had gathered outside the apartment building to mourn in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.

What happened inside is still unclear, however Korchinski-Paquet’s family is adamant she was pushed from the apartment’s balcony.

No family members were inside the unit at the time of Korchinski-Paquet’s death and it’s unclear if anyone witnessed her fall from the high-rise.

The SIU is asking anyone who saw what happened to contact them.

Police chief says he also wants the facts

Toronto’s Police Chief Mark Saunders also issued a statement Thursday urging any witnesses to contact the SIU.

“We know this incident has caused a great deal of concern and our thoughts are with the family and the community,” he said.

“Let me be very clear that we want the facts as much as anyone,” adding the force is cooperating with the SIU but is not “legally permitted to discuss the incident at this time.”

The SIU said it was is “aware of allegations made by certain family members of the deceased and will be looking to speak to anyone with information about these allegations. As the investigations is in the early stages, it would be inappropriate for the SIU to make any further comment at this time with respect to what transpired.”

Roy Dawson said he was getting ready for a virtual Bible study when he got a call from family members saying, “Please come now, she’s dead.” (Yan Jun Li/CBC)

‘What happened for her to be on the ground?

Speaking outside the building on Wednesday night, Roy Dawson, a pastor of Peace Community Church of Jesus Christ, told CBC News that Korchinski-Paquet was an active member of his congregation who came to virtually every church cookout.

“She was a delight,” he said.

“She was very kind, she’d give you anything, she’d give you the shirt off her back if she had to.”

Dawson said he was getting ready for a virtual Bible study when he got a call from family members saying, “Please come now, she’s dead.””I was hoping it was not true,” he said.

Like the family, Dawson has serious questions about just what happened to Korchinski-Paquet.

“What happened for her to be on the ground? The sad thing is I couldn’t get that answer because it was only police and her alone in the apartment. And for me, that makes me really uneasy,” he said.

CBC

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