Two Toronto police officers were criticized as “inhumane” after they were caught on surveillance video making fun of a 29-year-old woman with Down syndrome.
Francie Munoz was sitting in the backseat when cops stopped her mother’s vehicle for going through a red light in December.
With Francie, her sister and her mom in the vehicle, officers were heard saying there were “two-and-a-half women” in the car, according to the dashcam video obtained by CBC News.
In addition, the officers described Francie as “disfigured … or different.”
Francie Munoz was “disgusted” after hearing what the police officers said.
“Artistic. That’s gonna be my new code word,” one officer says.
The family only found out about the hurtful comments after obtaining a video of the traffic stop as part of the procedure to fight the ticket in court.
“I feel hurt; it really hurt my feelings,” Francie told CBC News. “I was disgusted by what they said about me.”
It’s a “teachable” moment, one expert in Toronto says.
“My blood was boiling,” mom Pamela Munoz told CBC News this week. “I’m still very upset, but at that moment I was enraged. These are the people we’ve told Francie to trust, to go to when she needs help. I can’t believe two officers would conduct themselves in this manner … that they’d be this inhumane in their comments.”
The head of the Toronto Police Association told CBC News that the officers admit the comments “were totally inappropriate” and they will do “everything they need to do, including an apology and sensitivity training … to make it right.”
Francie, who has appeared in Down syndrome campaign videos, hopes there will be improved training for officers to help them interact with people with disabilities.
“It’s a teachable moment,” Yona Lunsky of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health told CBC News. “Here is something we can all learn from … how it feels for a person to be spoken about in a certain way.”
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