Questions are swirling about exactly what happened to a woman who apparently fell to her death from an apartment balcony in Toronto's High Park neighbourhood on Wednesday.
Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said Thursday it's aware of allegations made by family members concerning the death of the 29-year-old woman after Toronto police were called to the building at 100 High Park Ave. around 5:15 p.m. ET for "a domestic incident" on the 24th floor.
In a news release Wednesday night, the police watchdog said, "While officers were inside the apartment unit … they observed a woman on the balcony."
"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 as Regis Korchinski-Paquet.
In a Thursday release, the SIU said it is "aware of allegations made by certain family members of the deceased" and is looking to speak with anyone with information about the incident.
In a series of videos posted to social media Wednesday evening, family members, including Korchinski-Paquet's mother, Claudette Beals, said they believed the woman was pushed from the balcony.
In one video, Beals said, "The police killed my daughter.
© Sannah Choi/CBCCBC Toronto spoke with numerous family members who had gathered outside the apartment building to mourn in the immediate aftermath of the woman's death.
CBC Toronto spoke with numerous family members who had gathered outside the apartment building to mourn in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
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 highrise.
Donovan Bruce, Korchinski-Paquet's cousin, told CBC News that soon after police arrived, they asked Korchinski-Paquet, her mother and brother to leave the unit. Korchinski-Paquet had to use the bathroom, he said, so police let her back inside.
Bruce said Korchiniski-Paquet's mother told him later the family could hear her yelling from the hallway, "Mama, mama."
Moments later, she was dead.
Police chief urges witnesses to contact SIU
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."
He said the force is co-operating with the SIU but is not "legally permitted to discuss the incident at this time."
On Thursday afternoon, Toronto Mayor John Tory also issued a statement extending his condolences to the family of Korchinski-Paquet and acknowledging their questions.
Tory said he supports the SIU's investigation, emphasizing the police watchdog is separate and independent of the Toronto police.
"I know that any delay in getting answers is incredibly frustrating for people, myself included, who want to know what happened, but this independent investigation is necessary to provide our community with all the facts and to ensure full accountability and transparency."
'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."
© Yan Jun Li/CBCRoy 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.'
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 questions about just what happened to Korchinski-Paquet.
He said Korchinski-Paquet's mother told him she could hear her daughter shouting for her.
"But they wouldn't let her into the apartment," he said.
"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."