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The case that gave birth to Ontario's Special Investigations Unit

A Special Investigations Unit vehicle outside the SIU headquarters in Mississauga on Aug. 24, 2016. GETTY IMAGES/Nakita Krucker

In today’s Big Story podcast, in 1988, Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby represented the family of a young man named Michael Wade Lawson. Though neither Ruby, the family or anyone else involved at the time knew it, it’s a case that’s had a profound impact on how police forces in Canada’s largest province do — and don’t — hold themselves accountable.

Michael Wade Lawson, you see, was 17 — a young Black man who was shot and killed by the police. After his death, amid a public outcry, Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit was created, to investigate cases of police misconduct that resulted in injury or death to civilians. And that’s where today’s story begins.

GUEST: Clayton Ruby

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