Police officer accused of failing to properly investigate woman's 'repeated pleas' for help, days before her murder
Published Wednesday, March 29, 2023 11:55AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 29, 2023 5:59PM EDT
A Toronto police officer is facing disciplinary charges after he allegedly failed to “conduct a sufficient investigation” into a woman’s “repeated pleas” for help with an ex-boyfriend that she had come to fear, just days prior to her murder.
Police tribunal documents outlining the case against Const. Anson Alfonso state that the officer was assigned to 32 Division on Aug. 15 of last year when he and a partner responded to a call for a domestic incident.
The documents state that the female complainant advised that her ex-boyfriend had been “harassing her and threatening her via text” and provided “information and evidence” that would have given Alfonso “reasonable grounds to believe a criminal offence had occurred.”
However, the documents say that Alfonso “ultimately took no action to protect” the woman.
Three days later, Daniella Mallia was fatally shot in an underground garage near Jane Street Sheppard Avenue. Her ex-boyfriend Dylon Dowman was ultimately charged with first-degree murder in her death. His case is still before the courts.
“You spoke with the ex-boyfriend for only three minutes, showing a deficient investigation and insufficient collection of information,” the tribunal documents state. “You also improperly considered the case to be a ‘he said, she said’ and cautioned the complainant, when there was ample evidence that the complainant was a victim. The complainant repeatedly advised you that her ex-boyfriend’s behaviour caused her to fear for her safety, and you took no action to protect her.”
The tribunal documents outline more than a dozen alleged deficiencies when it comes to the investigation conducted by Alfonso and his partner, including “failing to investigate previous assault allegations.”
The documents also allege that Alfonso was “inappropriately influenced by the victim’s unwillingness to attend court” and failed to take a number of required steps, including notifying an Intimate Partner Violence Investigator and requesting that a supervisor attend the call.
When he did speak with a supervisor, the documents state that Alfonso told him that there was “no evidence of any threating, stalking or violence” and failed to mention that the ex-boyfriend had an active firearms prohibition.
“As the investigation police officer, you failed in your duty to act on information and evidence provided by the complainant and did not ensure her safety,” the documents state. “Your conduct constituted a substantial departure from what is expected of a reasonable police officer placed in these circumstances.”
Police chief Denkiw spoke with victim’s family
In a statement provided to CP24 on Wednesday, Toronto Police said that Chief Myron Demkiw did meet with the family of Daniella Mallia to inform them about the “alleged misconduct” and to express his “sincere condolences.”
Demkiw also released a statement of his own expressing his concerns about the allegations.
“The service expects every member to treat victims of crime with dignity and respect, and to conduct themselves with professionalism and integrity. Like all areas of criminal investigation, our procedure on how to address intimate partner violence is very clear, and all members must adhere to it,” he said. “As chief, I am concerned about the alleged misconduct in this case, and want to reassure the public, particularly those who are vulnerable, that officers respond to intimate partner violence calls on a daily basis, and they do so with compassion and professionalism. Those who fail to follow procedure or to meet our clear professional standards will be held to account.”
Second officer will also face disciplinary charges
The documents allege that Alfonso failed to identify the matter involving Mallia as an intimate partner violence call, which would have required that the investigation be led by an officer with specialized experience.
In an interview with CP24, Staff Supt. Pauline Gray refused to discuss the specifics of the case but said that the Toronto Police Service has “a very robust, very clear and direct procedure” that has to be followed when it comes to alleged instances of intimate partner violence.
“There are many layers of direction with this procedure, for the constables who arrive on scene, for the supervisors and for the intimate partner violence investigators who would ultimately take over the case,” she said.
Alfonso is facing three counts of misconduct and one count of insubordination.
A police spokesperson confirmed to CP24 that his partner, Const. Sang Youb Lee, will also face disciplinary charges in the case but has not yet appeared before the tribunal.
In a statement, Toronto Police Association President Jon Reid called the case a “tragic incident for everyone involved” but urged members of the public to “wait for the disciplinary process to take its course” before rendering judgement.
“Right now, we understand there are more questions than answers. Police officers are governed by the highest degree of oversight and accountability, more so than any other profession. As difficult as it may be, we must wait for the disciplinary process to take its course. In the interim, there is no value in passing judgement on these officers or with casting aspersions on an entire membership,” he said.
Alfonso is currently suspended with pay, as per the terms of the Police Services Act.