Robin Zavitz on camera. THE FIFTH ESTATE / CBC

CBC interviews Robin Zavitz about cop-on-cop incident

It was November 29, 2018, around 11 AM. Pelham resident Robin Zavitz, who lives with her family on Roland Road, was returning home via Effingham Street.

“There were police cars blocking off the roadway at the intersection, and also a roadblock further down Roland near Sulphur Springs,” said Zavitz. “There were a half-dozen policemen present, and three or four police cars. I always have a camera with me, so I snapped some photos. A police officer came up to my car and said that I’d have to turn around, because they were reconstructing a motor vehicle accident that happened previously.”

Zavitz was out and about again around 1 PM, and figured that the police must be done with their investigation. But roadblocks were still in place. “I thought, well this is weird,” she said. “I could see up ahead at the intersection of Roland and Effingham that there were now more police cars, and a lot of activity of police officers walking around in the road.”

Pulling over, she snapped some more pictures, and made her way home. Shortly after she walked through the door, friends called to inform her that there were social media posts concerning a shooting on Roland Road.

“The eerie part is that I must have just missed it. I did not witness any of the shooting, or even hear any gunshots,” said Zavitz. She did hear the sound of a helicopter mid-afternoon, likely the one that airlifted the injured officer to hospital.

The phone rang again. It was Liam Casey, a reporter for the Toronto Star, with whom Zavitz had spoken a couple of times in the past about other issues.

“He remembered we lived on Roland Road, so he called me to inquire if I knew anything about the shooting. I told him I had pictures, and he asked me to send them to him right away. That’s how CBC News must have found out about me [for their documentary], and made contact.”

Casey told Zavitz that the information from his sources was that a police officer had been shot. He didn’t know at the time that a second officer was involved.

“You know, you wonder where’s the shooter? Who’s the shooter? Are any residents in the area at risk? Yeah, so it was pretty unnerving,” she said. “It just begs the question of what on earth could have happened between two police officers while they’re investigating a traffic accident, that would lead one to shoot the other? It makes you wonder if there was some kind of history between these two guys… I mean, it’s just not rational.”

Zavitz fired off a couple of her photos to Liam Casey that were published both in the Toronto Star and by CBC News.

“It was bizarre for sure,” she said.

CBC was back last fall, this time in the form of The Fifth Estate, the long-form documentary series now in its 46th year. Producers were working on an episode that was to address how police misconduct in Canada is handled by the authorities, with a particular focus on the cop-on-cop shooting that occurred in Pelham.

Zavitz was interviewed for the program, “Who Polices the Police,” last October 4, close to two years after the shooting.

The episode aired last week, and is available on CBC Gem, as well as on You Tube.


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