Canada Day in 2019 became a tragedy for a local family when Eric Brooks died following an altercation with some youths on bikes near the Metro store on Front Street.
Orillia OPP determined the death was "accidental." But Brooks' mom disagrees and continues to search for answers about what happened that day.
“What I’m being told is there was a confrontation between five boys on bicycles and Eric closer to the Liquor Store and Metro building,” Laurie Goldsmith said.
“I believe he was jumped by these people and he chased after them. The coroner's report talks about him grabbing people and him trying to stop them from leaving the parking lot. It’s apparent that this wasn’t a fall down and hit your head accidental death.”
The 32-year-old Orillia man died in Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on July 2, 2019 from "blunt force trauma to the head," according to the coroner's report.
No charges were laid and police deemed the death an accident. The case was officially closed within a month of the investigation, Goldsmith said.
She claims one of the suspects is related to a retired OPP officer while "two of the boys are from influential families. My son’s true cause of death has been hidden,” Goldsmith alleges.
She says she has heard other speculation about the suspects but "can’t confirm any of this because my lawyer has been denied" the information despite his request through the Freedom of Information Act.
Goldsmith says she has been fighting to get police records from the OPP since her son's death.
“We are fighting for them to release the videotapes from Metro and everything we need to take this further,” she said.
“Even the autopsy and the paperwork from the coroner's report wasn’t available until almost a year later.”
Goldsmith says to further pursue the release of information legally would cost her an estimated $5,000 in legal fees.
“As if it wasn’t bad enough that my son was beaten to death by five people," she said.
Goldsmith says she will not rest until justice is served for her son who was a Twin Lakes Secondary School graduate and a father to an eight-year-old girl.
OPP Const. Ted Dongelmans told OrilliaMatters on July 5, 2019 that an altercation ensued between a lone male (Brooks) and a group of individuals on bicycles.
After the original altercation, the lone male sustained what police believed to be an accidental injury, he said at the time.
“We can’t release any details, but in conjunction with the chief coroner’s office and including a consultation with a Crown attorney, it was determined there were no grounds to pursue any criminal charges,” Dongelmans said Wednesday.
“Obviously it was a tragic circumstance and I understand the concern from the family in regard to wanting to know all of the details of the investigation, but we can assure them that a thorough investigation was completed," said Dongelmans.
He said he can’t speak to why evidence such as the Metro camera footage from the case is being withheld from public access.
“The decision to release that information would be up to the coroner, I believe, which is the case for all deaths outside of the hospital,” he said.