Family Sues Housing Authority over Security Cuts

TORONTO – July 4, 2007 –  On August 3, 2005, four-year-old Shaquan Cadougan became the youngest victim in a rash of gun violence that would become known as Toronto’s Summer of the Gun.  Yesterday, his family commenced a lawsuit against their landlord, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) asserting that the landlord’s decisions to reduce security as a cost-saving measure nearly cost the young boy his life.

On the evening in question, family and friends had gathered in front of the Cadougan family’s townhouse located at 30 Driftwood Avenue in Toronto.  A car with tinted windows approached from the street and slowed near the gathering before coming to a stop.  A window opened and and one or more shooters fired a total of sixteen bullets at the gathering.  Shaquan was hit four times in his lower body. 

In a statement of claim filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the family seeks damages in excess of $4 million for injuries sustained by Shaquan and other family members after TCHC closed two nearby security stations in 2004, leaving no deterrent to the violence that would ensue.  The family is represented by Courtney Betty of Betty’s Law Office and Marshall Swadron of Swadron Associates. 

In a press conference today, lawyers for the family detailed the TCHC Board’s decision in June 2003 to save $4 million by 2005 by bringing its security spending in line with the security expenses of other residential landlords.  This included cutting by more than half the TCHC’s highly-successful special constables program which had, according to TCHC’s own consultant’s report, gained broad community acceptance.

What TCHC was ignoring when comparing itself to other landlords, said Betty, was that many TCHC properties are home to vulnerable, economically and socially marginalized groups.  Added Swadron, “They took a gamble with the safety of their residents and lost.  The Cadougan family, and young Shaquan in particular, paid the price.”

In response to the rising gun violence, much of which occurred on its own properties, TCHC announced in September 2005 that it would spend $9.3 million of additional funds on security in respect of 16 specific properties, including Driftwood Avenue.  No mention was made at the time in TCHC’s press release of the earlier decision to reduce its security presence.

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