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Chief Myron Demkiw speaks to media following a not guilty verdict of Umar Zameer, in Toronto on April 21.Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press

Toronto’s police chief apologized Tuesday for how he phrased his response to the acquittal of a man accused of fatally running over a plainclothes officer, saying he understands the public concerns over his comments.

Chief Myron Demkiw told the Toronto Police Service Board he has been reflecting on the statement he gave outside a downtown Toronto courthouse on April 21, shortly after Umar Zameer was found not guilty in the death of Detective Constable Jeffrey Northrup. At the time, Chief Demkiw said police respect the judicial process but were “hoping for a different outcome” to the trial.

“I apologize for my choice of words in those early moments outside the courthouse. I want to be very clear and repeat that I respect and accept the decision of the jury,” he told the board.

“As I have said, closure can never come at the expense of justice. I should have been more clear that I support and accept the verdict.”

The chief did not mention Mr. Zameer directly in his address to the board. The apology comes after two previous efforts to clarify his comments.

Chief Demkiw’s initial response to the verdict was denounced by legal observers and civil rights advocates, who said it cast doubt on the jury’s decision, undermining the justice system as well as the public’s faith in that system.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which last week called on Chief Demkiw to apologize, described Tuesday’s statement to the board as “a first step.”

“The Toronto Police Service Board must now ensure it takes policy action to ensure that the chief of police and officers assigned to cases do not publicly malign bail decisions or criminal verdicts in future,” the director of the organization’s criminal justice program, Shakir Rahim, said in a statement.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was asked about the chief’s apology but declined to comment on it. Instead, he called the case “a very sad situation … on all fronts” and expressed sympathy for Det. Constable Northrup’s family. The Premier also said he supports police “1,000 per cent.”

Det. Constable Northrup, 55, was hit by a vehicle in an underground parking garage at Toronto City Hall nearly three years ago.

Mr. Zameer had pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and testified he didn’t know Det. Constable Northrup and his partner – who were both in plain clothes – were police officers. He testified he tried to escape as safely as possible from what he believed to be an attack on his family when two strangers ran up to his car and began banging on it.

Chief Demkiw announced last week that his force has asked Ontario Provincial Police to conduct an independent review into the case after “adverse comments” made by the judge presiding over the trial.

The chief also ordered a full internal review of all aspects of plainclothes policing. He said he would report the findings to the board and publicly share everything he can about the reviews.

In her final instructions to the jury at Mr. Zameer’s trial, Ontario Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy said jurors had to consider the possibility that three officers who witnessed the incident had colluded.

She also said there was no evidence to fully support the Crown’s theory that Det. Constable Northrup was hit while standing out of view of a security camera in the parking garage.

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