Toronto, CA — Nothing says 'unfit for public service' quite like bashing society's most vulnerable, those with disabilities. However, that is just what two 'public servants' in December were caught doing as they mocked a young woman with Down syndrome while writing her mother a ticket.
Last December, two Toronto cops pulled over Pamela Munoz for allegedly running a red light. Munoz had her two daughters in the car, one of whom is Francie Munoz, who has Down syndrome.
Pamela insisted that she did not run the light and that it was yellow when she went through it. The officer wrote her a ticket anyway and then told her she could fight the ticket in court as he had the alleged proof of the infraction on his dashcam.
Munoz did fight the ticket and she was subsequently given the dashcam video of it. When police gave her the video, it was marked as having no audio — but they forgot to erase it.
The dashcam video did have audio and when Pamela Munoz heard what was on it, she was appalled. The cops recorded themselves making fun of Pamela's daughter Francie. Their actions were nothing short of disgusting — especially considering the fact that they are public servants and on duty.
As CBC reports, one officer can be heard saying there are "two-and-a-half women" in the car instead of three and then goes on to describe Francie as "disfigured …or different," with the other officer laughing and agreeing.
"Artistic.…That's going to be my new code word for ... different," says the officer.
Pamela told CBC that she thinks the cops were unaware that their comments were being recorded.
The officers then went on to further degrade the family, who had pizza with them in the car, saying, "They're [probably] nibbling on it right as we speak."
Pamela explained that she was initially upset about the ticket but after hearing the audio, she became furious.
"I was enraged," said the mother after hearing the police officers degrade her daughter because of Down syndrome.
"Obviously I was extremely upset. My blood was boiling. I'm still very upset, but at that moment I was enraged," she said. "These are the people we've told Francie to trust, to go to when she needs help."
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After hearing these cops act in such an unprofessional manner, Pamela explained that Francie asked them to apologize and undergo training to make sure they don't publicly lambast those with special needs for the mere act of being different.
"I can't believe two officers would conduct themselves in this manner … that they'd be this inhumane in their comments," said Pamela. "They don't respect, obviously, people with disabilities or people that are different than them."
As for the police department and the Toronto Police Association, they say they spoke with the officers who said they know their comments were inappropriate.
"They say their comments were totally inappropriate and [they] will do everything they need to do, including an apology and sensitivity training … to make it right," said Mike McCormack, president of the police association.
According to CBC, Francie would like to see police officers receive better training for dealing with people with disabilities, something she advocates for herself through the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
She appears in several campaign videos for CAMH, helping to educate people on what it's like living with Down syndrome, reports the news outlet.
"It's a teachable moment. Here is something we can all learn from … how it feels for a person to be spoken about in a certain way," said Yona Lunsky, a clinician-scientist at CAMH. "When we're thinking about diversity, we think about certain types of diversity. Disability is another kind of diversity that we all need to be better sensitized to."
Sadly, police officers showing callous disregard to those with Down syndrome is not isolated. As the Free Thought Project has reported on multiple occasions, police have been caught beating and even killing those with Down syndrome.
A man with Down syndrome was killed by police, his death ruled a homicide, and no charges were brought against the officers involved.
The victim, Robert Saylor, was at a movie theater with a health aide in Frederick on the night of the incident. He had just watched Zero Dark Thirty and refused to leave the theater after the film ended.
Three off-duty deputies who were moonlighting as security at the theater were called to handle the situation. The situation turned violent and Saylor ended up face down on the ground.
The cause of death, according to the autopsy, was asphyxiation. The autopsy also said Saylor’s larynx had been damaged. A witness said an officer had put his knee on Saylor’s lower back while Saylor was on his stomach being handcuffed, according to The Associated Press.
San Diego Sheriff’s Deputy, Jeffrey Guy rose to brutality infamy after he beat and pepper-sprayed 22-year-old Antonio Martinez, a man with Down syndrome and the mental capacity of a 7-year-old. Despite admitting under oath that he had no reasonable suspicion to believe Martinez was ever involved in a crime, he still says he would do it all over again today.