The Mad and the Bad: The Lethal Use of Force against Mad People by Toronto Police

Tracy Mack

Abstract


Since the killing of Edmond Yu by Toronto Police 16 years ago, police use of force incidents against Mad people in Toronto have resulted in nine additional deaths. This article investigates and analyzes the circumstances of the people who have been killed by Toronto police officers while experiencing mental distress. Reading the cases together reveals a pattern of intersecting sanist and racist discrimination, with racialized mad people being perceived by police officers as dangerous and deviant for who they are, rather than what they have done. Further, a link exists between police behaviour and judicial acceptance of that conduct. Police engage in sanist and racist profiling because the agencies overseeing their actions, as well as the courts, allow it. I argue that the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which is supposed to be a civilian-led and independent agency, actually serves as an extension of the police force, providing only an illusion of accountability.
Keywords: Mad people; racialization; criminalization; Toronto police; accountability

Depuis le meurtre d’Edmond Yu il y a 16 ans, la force excessive et mortelle utilisée par la police de Toronto n’a pas diminuée, ayant comme résultat les morts de neuf autres personnes psychiatrisées. À travers l’analyse de ces meurtres, nous réaliserons que les identités construites aux intersections d’un processus de racialisation négatives et des questions de santé mentale sont perçues comme dangereuses, et comme déviantes, en tant que telles, et non pour leurs actes, ce qui mène à l’utilisation d’une force excessive et mortelle par les officiers de police.
Mots-clés: personnes psychiatrisées; processus de racialisation; criminalisation; police Torontoise; responsabilité

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