A Toronto police officer is facing charges of manslaughter and aggravated assault in the April, 2021, death of a 19-year-old man after an off-duty altercation.
Toronto Police Service Constable Calvin Au, an eight-year veteran of the service, was suspended after the province’s police watchdog issued the charges on Friday.
Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit said in a statement it has “reasonable grounds to believe” Constable Au, 33, committed criminal offences in the death of teenager Chadd Facey. The investigation began a year and a half ago.
The charges are in relation to an interaction between Constable Au, fellow off-duty Constable Gurmakh Benning and Mr. Facey in the Brampton area of Bellchase Trail and Highway 50 in the early afternoon hours of April 26, 2021.
Most of the public details surrounding the confrontation come from disciplinary hearing notices served against the two officers last February for charges of misconduct and neglect of duty by not reporting the incident. These allegations have not been tested in front of a police tribunal, as the proceedings were suspended during the criminal investigation.
According to hearing documents, the two officers travelled to Brampton as Constable Benning planned to purchase an Apple Watch that Mr. Facey had posted on Kijiji. After the transaction, the officers found the watch to be fake and Constable Benning drove his car in the direction of where Mr. Facey was running and asked for his money back, but Mr. Facey continued to flee the area.
It is alleged Constable Au got out of the car, chased after Mr. Facey and “engaged in a struggle” with the teen on the ground. The two officers then ran back to the vehicle and drove away after a second male approached.
Mr. Facey died hours later at the Brampton Civic Hospital. Further details, including the cause of death and evidence against Constable Au, haven’t been released by the SIU, citing “fair trial interests” as the matter is before the courts.
Family of Mr. Facey say he suffered serious injuries from the altercation including a hematoma to his head, caused by blood collecting outside of blood vessels. Mr. Facey’s mother, Fay Fagan, said Friday’s charges provide some relief after waiting a long time for answers.
“It has been clear to our family that there was some kind of misconduct that had occurred in respect of Chadd’s death. We are happy to finally see that the officer is being held accountable for his actions,” she said in a statement released by her legal counsel.
Responding to an e-mail from The Globe and Mail, Constable Au’s lawyer, Peter Brauti, said they are “obviously disappointed” in the charges laid by the SIU but had no further comment.
Only Constable Au was charged as a result of the SIU investigation; Constable Benning remains on active duty.
The actions of the officers are also being looked into by the Toronto police Professional Standards Investigative Unit, both facing six charges of misconduct. Constable Benning placed a call to 911 after the altercation, calling it a “Kijiji deal that had gone bad,” but did not identify himself as a police officer and eventually told the dispatcher that the matter was resolved.
Peel Regional Police launched an investigation after Mr. Facey’s death and found a link to Constable Benning through cellphone records. Neither of the officers informed the Toronto Police Service of the events, the hearing documents say. The police service said it was only made aware of the situation in August, after the investigation in Peel and four months after Mr. Facey’s death, and immediately informed the SIU.
Constable Au is scheduled to appear in court March 2.