Family of deceased Indigenous woman suing Toronto police for $14 million
Kenneth Jackson, APTN National News, Sept 13, 2014
The family of an Indigenous woman that died in Toronto under suspicious circumstances is suing Toronto police for $14 million alleging the force was negligent in the events leading up to her death in April 2013 and during the subsequent police investigation that labeled it a suicide.
Cheyenne Fox’s family alleges Toronto police didn’t properly respond to two 911 calls prior to Fox’s death April 25, 2013 when she fell to her death from a 24th floor balcony of a Toronto condo according to a statement of claim filed in Peterborough court Friday and obtained by APTN National News.
None of the allegations have been proven in court and all defendents, including Toronto police, are expected to be served Monday.
The family also name, for the first time, the man last with Fox according to the claim.
Fox died at about 11 p.m. that night, but the first 911 call came in at approximately 6 p.m. from someone who witnessed Fox jump from a moving taxicab on Highway 401.
It’s alleged she lept from the “still moving” cab because the driver was sexually assaulting her.
Two people stopped and picked her up on the side of the highway.
The document states they drove Fox to her destination at 80 Harrison Blvd. to meet an alleged “custumer” as she was working as a sex worker, potentially forced into it by a human trafficking ring.
The second 911 call came about two hours later at 8 p.m.
It was by the man she allegedly was going to meet – Bahram Sheibani, also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Sheibani resided at unit 2419 of the Don Mills condo building and he allegedly called police upon Fox’s arrival who he claimed was intoxicated, trespassing and refusing to leave his place.
“No response from the Toronto Police Service Board ever came in respect of the two 911 calls that were made by third parties in relation to Cheyenne and the serious danger or harm that she was reported to be in,” alleges the statement of claim.
It’s then alleged she tried to “escape” Sheibani’s home, but he “physically forced Cheyenne to remain at his property.”
Then they started drinking, according to the document.
A third call to 911 was placed at 11 p.m. due to an alleged fight between Fox and Sheibani.
The caller said Fox had jumped over the balcony.
Police arrived minutes later to “collect the badly beaten and lifeless body of Cheyenne.”
“The defendant, Bahram Sheibani, was either working directly as a human trafficker or was a customer of the human traffickers who brought Cheyenne into the company of Bahram Sheibani on the night of her murder,” the document alleges, adding Sheibani invited Fox to his condo “for the purpose of sex trade acts.”
It also names the owner of the condo building as a defendant and the Attorney General of Canada.
Fox’s family say Toronto police also failed to provide “adequate or effective” reports or effectively communicate with the family after the death.
The family alleges police failed, as well, in considering Fox “was murdered.”
Last fall, the family said police told them the case was closed and Fox’s death was determined to be suicide.
“(Police) blamed Cheyenne for her death attributing ‘risky’ behavior and a ‘high risk lifestyle’ instead of engaging an adequate or effective policing strategy to protect vulnerable women,” the document alleges.
Fox’s father John Fox is holding a press conference Monday at 2 p.m. in front of police headquarters in downtown Toronto.
Attempts to reach Sheibani or Toronto police Saturday were unsuccessful.
Update: In June 2015, Justice MacDougall dismissed the lawsuit against Bahram Sheibani, finding that he was not a tenant nor present during the death of Cheyenne Fox, and had rented to the apartment to his brother Benyamin Shamoon (who was present at the time that Fox died).