London, Ontario Police chief apologizes after 'squashing' trans activist - London | (2023)

London Police Chief Steve Williams has apologized to Clara Sorrenti, a transgender woman and popular Twitch streamer, after a bag of evidence following a "bruising" incident last week was tagged with her name and incorrect gender, also known as the "dead name".

London, Ontario Police chief apologizes after 'squashing' trans activist - London | (1)

In a statement on Thursday, Williams said that while an armed police response was necessary due to the threat to city officials, he confirmed that Sorrenti was the victim of a "beating".

Read more:Trans woman, doxxed Twitch streamer Keffals, arrested at gunpoint in London, Ontario. police

Swatting involves reporting a false crime in hopes of sending large numbers of armed police to a person's address. This is commonly used as an intimidation tactic.

“We believe there was a deliberate attempt by a third party to place suspicion on Ms. Sorrenti in connection with what are now believed to be false threats to harm people at City Hall,” wrote Williams.

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"With this determination, Ms. Sorrenti was unconditionally released from custody and all her belongings were returned to her."

On Wednesday, the London Police Service said it would conduct a review of Sorrenti's arrest.

Following Williams' additional statement on Thursday, Sorrenti took to Twitter and confirmed that she was no longer a suspect in the investigation.

I have spoken to the Chief Constable of London Police Services and I am no longer a suspect in the investigation. They are now recognizing this situation as a scam.

- keffals (@keffals)August 11, 2022

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On the morning of the report of the confrontation, police said they received a 911 call about an individual threatening to shoot people at City Hall.

In her recent statement, Williams said the officers in charge conducted "initial investigations" that led them to Sorrenti's residence, believing her to be the threatened shooter.

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“I had no idea what was going on,” Sorrenti told Global News on Tuesday. "I put on my pajamas and as I was walking out into the hallway, I saw them coming, they told me to put my hands up."

London, Ontario Police chief apologizes after 'squashing' trans activist - London | (2)

Clara Sorrenti details how she was crushed and held at gunpoint

(Video) Watch NBC News NOW Live - June 8

Williams said officers did not break into his home or perform a "dynamic entry" and that police announced their presence before knocking on Sorrenti's door.

"EM. Sorrenti was arrested for making threats based on information officers had at the time," he said, adding that Sorrenti was polite and cooperative.

"Police take threats of this nature seriously, as I think the public expects them to," he continued.

Williams also criticized police for using Sorrenti's birth name and gender during his arrest.

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Read more:London, Ontario police will review arrest of trans woman, Twitch streamer Keffals

While he said he couldn't confirm whether there had been any conversations between the arresting officers and Sorrenti before the initial arrest, Williams did confirm that a bag containing his belongings was labeled with his deceased's name.

He added that in the coming weeks he plans to organize a solution to ensure that such an incident does not happen again.

(Video) Watch NBC News NOW Live - July 7

Williams said he had contacted Sorrenti to discuss the incident and told him how a complaint could be filed if desired.

Global News has reached out to London Police, who said they were unable to provide any further information at this time amid the ongoing investigation.

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Full statement from London Police Chief Steve Williams:

In addition to my statement from yesterday, I'd like to share an update on this incident.

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As a result of further investigation, we do not believe that the threatening emails received by city officials originated from Ms. Sorrenti. We believe that there was a deliberate attempt by a third party to make Ms. Sorrenti became suspicious regarding what are now believed to be false threats to harm people at City Hall. This is sometimes called "knocking". With that determination made, Mrs. Sorrenti was released unconditionally and all her belongings were returned to her. I have instructed members of our Criminal Investigation Division to initiate an investigation into the origins of the email sent to municipal authorities, with the aim of identifying the person or persons responsible and bringing the appropriate charges. As this investigation will be complex and may involve multiple jurisdictions, it will take some time.

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As this is an active investigation, I cannot comment further on any evidence or the direction of the investigation. Updates will be provided when appropriate.

I can share information about the police's initial response to threats received at City Hall. Friday, August 5th at 8:30 am. we received a call to 911 about a person threatening to come to city hall to shoot people. Shortly thereafter, we received a second 911 call asking when the officers would arrive. Police take threats of this nature seriously, as I think the public expects. The responding officers conducted the initial investigations that culminated in their presence at Ms. Sorrenti. Officers failed to perform what is sometimes referred to as a “dynamic entry” into Ms. Sorrenti. Instead, they knocked on the door, announced themselves as police, and the occupants responded. Any attempt by uninvolved third parties to suggest otherwise is inaccurate and irresponsible. Mrs. Sorrenti was arrested for making threats based on information officers had at the time. Mrs. Sorrenti was polite and helpful.

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To be clear, due to the nature of the threats to shoot people, officers with specialized training and equipment participated in the arrest. These Emergency Response Unit officers are specially trained to peacefully resolve high-risk situations. They offer greater protection for the public and their companions. In the past, police officers in similar situations have been injured or killed. In that case, firearms were displayed until it was determined that the threat no longer existed. I recognize that, for ordinary citizens, the presence of heavily armed police in their homes would be traumatic. I understand that this was a traumatic and shocking experience for Ms. Sorrenti. At the same time, the safety of our employees and members of the public cannot be compromised when responding to incidents of this nature. I'm grateful they made the arrest without physically harming anyone.

This brings me to the allegations about how Ms. Sorrenti was addressed during her time in London police custody, using the wrong name (her "dead name") and gender. While I cannot confirm any conversations that may have taken place during Ms. Sorrenti, activity in our cells is monitored by audio and video equipment. In no time while in our cells did Mrs. Sorrenti was approached by members of our police service for her dead name and gender. I personally analyzed the recordings and found that our officers were polite, respectful and professional. The reference to Mrs. Sorrenti seems to stem from the existence of earlier police reports. When a person contacts the police for any reason, a record is made in our records management system under the name provided at that time. This report is merged with previous reports, if any, involving the same person with the same date of birth. When a person changes their name or has a nickname or alias, they are linked to the main name in the file. The police are usually not notified when someone legally changes their name. It appears that the bag in which Mrs. Sorrenti were kept was labeled with the name of her deceased, for tracking purposes. I recognize that this explanation will not please everyone. This situation highlights for us the need to develop a mechanism to ensure accuracy in our records, recognizing that, as in the case of Ms. Sorrenti, anything else could be hurtful and disrespectful, which was never our intention. For that, I apologized to Ms. Sorrenti. In the coming weeks, I will ensure that a solution is implemented to prevent this type of situation from happening again in the future.

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I personally contacted Ms. Sorrenti this afternoon to discuss this matter and assure you that we have opened an investigation into the crush incident. She was also informed of the channels available to her should she wish to make a formal complaint about her interactions with the London Police Service.

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While I recognize the great interest surrounding this matter, this is all the information I can provide at this time, while the investigation and review is ongoing.

Jefe Steve Williams
London Police Service

— With archives by Andrew Graham and Ahmar Khan of Global News


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