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Shooting Victim La Tanya Grant Criminalized by Peel Police After Calling 911

Calling 911 during a recent emergency was a regrettable decision for La Tanya Grant, cousin of Jermain Carby, who was killed by police in 2014

by Fernando Arce

La Tanya Grant stands outside a Tim Hortons in Brampton. She was the victim of a shooting at a party in Mississauga on Aug. 8 but says she has been criminalized by police. All photos by Fernando Arce.
La Tanya Grant stands outside a Tim Hortons in Brampton. She was the victim of a shooting at a party in Mississauga on Aug. 8 but says she has been criminalized by police. All photos by Fernando Arce.

Despite being a victim of a shooting on August 8th and calling 911 for help, La Tanya Grant says she has been criminalized, harassed and surveilled by police from that very same night. This has continued for over a week.

The shooting happened during an invite-only party at an outdoor lot behind the plaza at 30 World Drive in Mississauga, ON. Grant says she got to the party at around 8:15 PM, invited by her friend, who arrived shortly after in a separate vehicle. 

The lot behind the plaza appears to be a truck yard, with an open green space and a dilapidated house in the middle. Grant estimates around 50 people were in attendance. News reports of that night, citing police, state around 100. A worker from the Firehouse Sub restaurant in the plaza with security cameras directly overlooking the lot in question, told the Media Co-op she was working late that night and also estimates around 50 people were at the party.

 

House in the middle of the lot.

 

Part of the lot with trucks in background.

Shortly after a group photo was taken, Grant says she remembers the song “Heaven Sent" by Keyshia Cole playing when she heard the first shots, which she initially confused as firecrackers. Then, she remembers seeing a “spark go off” to her left and she instinctively ran the other way. 

“I don’t even know when I got hit,” she says during an interview with the Media Co-op  a week after the incident. One of the bullets went through her left elbow. Another grazed her back. 

“I just turned around and ran the other direction, and people were running too. I ran through the gate and ran to my car.”

After driving about 10 kilometres down Hurontario street, which connects Mississauga and Brampton, as the adrenaline began to wear off and the pain from her bleeding wound set in, she called 911 for help. A few minutes later, unable to continue driving, Grant pulled over in a Brampton plaza on the southwest corner of Steeles and Kennedy.

That's where, she tells the Media Co-op, she was "swarmed" by police, "treated like a criminal," and questioned as if she were a suspect, all while she bled from her wounds.

Grant says one bullet went straight through her left elbow (above) and another grazed her back (below).

“I regret calling 911 that day, and they’re supposed to be the people that help you," she says, as we sit in a Brampton's Tim Hortons, in obvious physical discomfort, her left arm in a blue sling. “I will never make a 911 call ever in my life again.”

Cousin of Jermaine Carby, killed by Peel Police in 2014

While it's not the first time a Black person has such an experience at the hands of cops, Grant's case is particular because she is a high-profile activist who has been searching for justice for her cousin, Jermaine Carby. Carby was shot and killed by Peel Police in 2014 during a traffic stop. He was the passenger. 

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the body that investigates cops when they seriously injure civilians, cleared police of that shooting. The night of the shooting, police claimed Carby had a knife, which allegedly prompted the cop to shoot him. However, SIU investigators did not locate the knife at the scene of the crime. It was only hours later that a Peel sergeant handed a knife to the SIU, claiming he had picked it up to preserve the evidence, according to a news report. A 2016 coroner’s inquest deemed the shooting a homicide, but its findings are not legally binding.

Grant now has a pending $12-million lawsuit against the Peel Police Services Board, former police chief Jennifer Evans, and seven officers. The suit claims it was the illegal practice of carding that ultimately led to police killing Carby.

She believes her activism and the lawsuit are the reason she is being targeted by police. The fact that her friend, who was also shot at the August 8th party, has not been subjected to the same questioning or treatment, tells Grant the police knew who she was before they got to the plaza, and that's why they have deliberately continued to harass her.

“I definitely feel targeted,” she says. 

"Because they asked me my name on the ambulance call. So, once you hear La Tanya Grant - 'Hey, that's Jermaine Carby's cousin. That's the one that's fighting us. That's the one that we  don't like’...You think they want to help me when they come...to the scene of a crime? They want to see me bleed out. They want to see me die."

Looking for medical treatment, getting police harassment

At the Brampton plaza, Grant first ran into a Popular Pizza store and asked for napkins to clean her wounds. When the Media Co-op visited the store on Aug. 15, one of the workers said her daughter had been working that night and saw someone bleeding run in asking for help.

Grant says when police showed up a few minutes later – before the ambulance arrived – she was waiting by her car, “bleeding out.” Police immediately began questioning her and searching her pockets, looking for her car keys, treating her like a suspect, she says. 

“Nobody was, like, holding the wound. No one was trying to talk to me to calm me down,” she says. “They were just concerned about ‘Where's the keys? Where's the keys for your car?’”

She says she kept repeating that she was the one who was shot and that she needed help. Eventually, she says, she had to put her keys down her underwear in order for the police not to get them.

When the ambulance finally arrived, the paramedics had to “push [the police] away” in order to get Grant onto a stretcher and properly attend to her wounds. Once inside the ambulance, Grant says “four officers swarmed into the front” to demand a statement from her. 

“How the fuck am I going to give a statement when I'm bleeding out?” she says, frustrated. “I'm still in shock. I just got shot.”

She says the three paramedics finally had to demand the cops get out before driving her to Brampton Civic Hospital.

She says she left behind her vehicle, inside which she left a knapsack, a wallet with her belongings including $480, pyrite stones, and a cellphone that contained sensitive personal material including information about her lawsuit.

Trouble at the Hospital

She had trouble again at the hospital.

“I'm now sitting in there, like, trying to get my stuff dealt with, and they're swarming my room,” still demanding a statement, she says.

“I don't have a problem giving a statement, but not after I just got shot and I'm dealing with the trauma and the shock of everything, and I'm just trying to get the proper medical care that I need.”

She says at one point, she was even followed to the bathroom by police.

“They just made me feel so victimized and so inhumane...It was disgusting.”

Eventually, she was patched up and discharged from the hospital and told to return to the fracture clinic the following day. 

Fortunately, she says, she had remembered to take one of her two cellphones with her (the one she uses for calls and texts), her charger and her health card. She called one of her friends to come pick her up and then went to the triage of the hospital to charge her phone.

Grant says she fortunately remembered to take the phone she uses to make calls with her. Here, she shows her case still displaying her bloody prints.

As she waited, she noticed her bandage was coming off her back wound and blood was beginning to seep. She asked for help but was told she had to go back upstairs.

Security eventually walked her back downstairs, she says, where she finished charging her phone and called for a friend to pick her up.

When her friend arrived, they headed to 22 Division, where her stuff was being held.

Police holding her possessions, items go missing

She says when she got to the station, the police refused to give back her belongings, claiming her car was part of a criminal investigation because she had been shot in it.

Despite her obvious wounds, the recorded 911 call and her clarifying that she had not been shot in the car, the police refused to return her car and belongings and told her to leave.

“I had no money or nothing. I couldn’t do anything,” she says. “If my boy hadn’t gotten me at the hospital, where would I have gone?”

Grant says they eventually made their way to Sunnybrook Hospital at around 3:00 am on Aug. 9 so that she could be treated for her wounds, which had begun bleeding again. There, she says, she was properly attended to and kept in hospital until Tuesday, Aug. 10. 

On Monday, Aug. 9, the police called her to let her know that they had gotten a warrant and her car had been searched and dropped off at a tow yard in Brampton for her to pick up. Unable to go herself since she was still in hospital, she asked a friend to pick up the vehicle.

As of time of writing, on Aug. 18, Grant says only her car and the $480 that were in there have been returned. Still missing are her phone, her black Nike knapsack with personal belongings inside, an external phone charger and her pyrite stones.

“They’re trying to insinuate that my friend (who picked up the car) stole” those items, she says.

Her friend is another Black Lives Matter organizer she says is close with her, and is known to police, which is why she believes the cops stole her stuff and are trying to pin it on him.

“I know the cops stole my stuff,” she says, “because when I called the tow truck company, they said that the car wasn't even there an hour and nobody went to my car after they dropped it off.”

She says one of the workers at the tow truck company assured her there is video surveillance proving nobody had gone to the car before that.

A copy of the warrant to search the car shared with the Media Co-op shows that “upon the sworn statement of Constable Forsyth #3994,” Peel Police were given authority to search Grant’s car and the contents therein, even though she was also named as one of three victims of “attempted murder” by an “unknown person” in the same warrant.

Warrant to search Grant’s car.

Appendix A of the warrant lists, among other items, “a small Nike satcel.” 

Appendix A in the warrant to search Grant’s car shows that they also know of her black Nike Knapsack, which was inside the car to begin with.

But Grant says she “doesn’t understand” how the Nike Satchel could be named in the warrant when it was inside the car to begin with.

“How the hell did you even know it was in the car until you got in the car?” she said.

Trying to give a statement and find the warrant

When Grant went back to 22 Division with some friends when she was discharged from Sunnybrook on Aug. 10 to give her statement and try to get her cellphone back, she found the station “barricaded” and drones flying overhead. She says she believes the cops did that anticipating her arrival, as she and some supporters had posted videos online announcing they were headed there.

“They blocked up the police station and wouldn’t even allow me to give my statement,” she says. They only came outside to give her a card with the name and number of the investigating officer for her to call. 

“That was the only person I could speak to in regards to the case.”

On Saturday, Aug. 14, Grant says she returned to 12 Division, which had responded to the shooting in Mississauga, where a different officer told her she would have to give a video statement in order to get her phone back. They also told her the phone was already with the IT department, as per a warrant.

On Sunday, Aug. 15, after our conversation, Grant went back to try to get a copy of the phone warrant.

“I want to blast it all over social media and show what judge warranted these cops to go through a victim's car like she was the criminal. And this victim currently has a lawsuit against the Peel Police. And this victim is a licenced paralegal,” she says. “Because if a judge did give them a warrant after seeing all this, that judge needs to be put on blast too, because it tells me she's working with them.” 

Asked if it’s common practice to take the belongings of shooting victims who call 911 for help, on Aug. 17, a Peel Police spokesperson said “every circumstance is different.”

“Investigative routes are taken, certainly, to locate the people responsible. So, how our investigators do that is, again, as I mentioned, all within the confines of the law,” they said.

“Ongoing Investigation”

Grant says she believes the police are putting more effort into criminalizing and harassing her in order to influence her lawsuit than they are into finding out who the shooter was that night.

One of the main reasons for this, she says, is that they don't appear to have made any follow-ups after that night, at least by the time of writing. 

Grant says by Thursday, Aug. 12, police had still not collected video footage from the Starbucks at the plaza where the shooting occurred, but according to her, they have collected the footage from the Popular Pizza at the Brampton plaza where she says they harassed her. 

“The police would have a lot more information by checking those (Starbucks) videos,” she says. “But they went to get the other video that shows how inhumanely they treated me (and)...what happened to my car after I left.”

However, a worker at the pizza store says the cameras don't work because they were recently robbed and the cameras were taken. 

According to the Firehouse Sub worker in the plaza where the shooting happened, by Aug. 16, cops had not returned to the scene to make further inquiries. To their knowledge, they have also not collected the surveillance video from there. Workers at the Starbucks in the same plaza, which also has cameras overlooking the site, declined to say anything and directed all questions to corporate. 

 

Above: view from within the party lot of the Firehouse Sub wall where there is a camera with a view of the lot.

Below: close up of the camera.

Neither the workers at the pizza store or the cellphone repair store at the Brampton plaza where Grant pulled over remember being asked questions by police that night. 

On Aug. 18, another worker at the cellphone store told the Media Co-op two officers showed up earlier that same day and asked for the tapes, but he told them their system erases everything after five days. He told the Media Co-op the property manager, however, keeps it for a month.

A worker in a nearby store who saw the interaction between Grant and the police unfolding through their store's cameras says they saw about a dozen police officers that night, but were “very surprised” that they were not asked any questions when they stepped outside to watch. 

The cellphone repair store worker says the cameras only point to the store's doors, which wouldn't have captured the commotion between Grant and police anyway. The third worker who saw the cameras says those cameras do not record. 

Citing an “ongoing investigation,” the Peel Police spokesperson said they could not confirm whether or not police have collected any surveillance video. 

Exposing the cops, the legal system, and the government

As more proof that police are targeting her, Grant points to the fact that neither her friend’s car nor her cellphone have been confiscated. 

“We went to the same party. We ran to the same place where both of our cars were parked. We drove the same route. And we went to the same hospital. We both got shot. But they never asked for her car.”

The Peel Police spokesperson said they didn’t know “the specifics” of why her friend was not being questioned like she was.

Her friend is also named as a victim in the warrant to search Grant’s car.

Asked if Grant was a suspect, the spokesperson said police “don't have any specific details to share on any suspects or people that may have been arrested or … people that were wanted...It's still an ongoing investigation, so we don't have much information to share at this time.”

They also said they “don’t know” whether the officers and investigators that were deployed that night were aware that Grant had placed the 911 call or whether they knew of her current lawsuit. 

Grant believes they did.

"They know who I am,” she says, including the fact that she became a paralegal as a way to help get justice for her cousin Jermaine Carby 

Grant has become a high-profile activist, continuously found advocating for victims of police shootings and an outspoken supporter of Black Lives Matter and the #DefundThePolice movement.

“The police know me. So, when they heard La Tanya Grant, they did not think someone is a victim...They looked at me like, ‘This is the time to try to get her....Let's find out what they're doing with the case.’”

Grant says the civil suit is one of her last avenues to get justice for her cousin Carby. The money that comes with it – should she win – is only a tool used to pressure decision makers and their subordinates, including the police, into action.

“You think money can change the fact that I got shot? You think money can change my mind? No, but I'm traumatized,” she says. “And you know what? The only way that you hurt these people is through their pockets. That's the only way they stop fucking with you, is when you fight, fight, fight, and they have to come out-of-pocket. That's when it hurts the government, and that's when the government wants to do something about it.”

While the entire experience has been grueling and “dehumanizing,” she says it has not deterred her from continuing to speak up against police brutality while demanding justice for her cousin and all other victims of police.

“If anything, this makes me want to fight even harder, because now I'm not just fighting for the Black men or the people that have been harassed. I now have personal experience of what the police did to me,” she says.

“I want the Peel Police to be exposed. I want them dismantled. I want the whole Peel Police shut down...I want them to be exposed. I want a judge, I want the media, I want the world to see what they're doing to people.”

As of Aug. 18, Peel Police cited an ongoing investigation but could not confirm or deny whether they had any leads.


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