The woman who died from injuries incurred during an ‘interaction’ with Toronto police last month has been identified by the Star as Amleset Haile – an Ethiopian native. Six weeks after her death, friends and neighbors are eager to learn what happened in the moments before she suffered fatal injuries.
It was at 4:45 a.m. on a chilly Monday last month when Toronto police knocked on the front door of a home on St. Clarens Ave., responding to a report of an emotionally disturbed woman threatening suicide.
By approximately 5 a.m., Amleset Haile — a 60-year-old resident of the building, a Houselink home for people with mental health or addiction challenges — was wheeled out on a stretcher from the narrow walkway between two houses, unmoving, her neck in a brace.
Two days later, she died in hospital after being taken off life support.
Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which probes deaths and serious injuries involving police, is investigating the January 2 incident. The watchdog has not identified Amleset Haile, citing its policy not to name those killed in police interactions without family consent; the Star has independently confirmed her identity.
Six weeks after her death, friends and neighbors of the quiet, affectionate Ethiopia native — a woman they say was struggling with mental illness and dementia — are growing eager to learn what transpired in the final moments before Amleset Haile suffered fatal injuries.
Hanna hugs a photo during a memorial for Amleset Haile organized by the Houselink organization
Shortly after the incident, paramedics said they transported a woman to a trauma center who had suffered life-threatening injuries “as the result of a fall,” and police and paramedics initially reported the woman fell from a window — something the SIU would not confirm.
Jennifer Cox, Amleset Haile’s friend and a fellow resident in the building who witnessed part of the incident, is awaiting the SIU’s conclusion, saying the full picture of what occurred has not yet come out.
“Other than the four police officers who were there, it’s Amleset and God who know what happened,” said Cox. “She’s not here to tell her story, so this is why we really want to push and know.”
According to the SIU’s brief description of the interaction, Toronto police arrived at the home on a quiet residential street near Bloor St. W. and Lansdowne Ave. at 4:45 a.m.
“A short time later, police officers located a 60-year-old woman between the residence and another house,” reads a news release.
In an email this week, SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon said she could not clarify whether Amleset Haile was injured before or after police found her, citing legislation prohibiting any public statement about the investigation during the course of the probe.
“In order to protect the integrity of the investigation into the woman’s death, I cannot offer further comment,” Hudon said in an email.