The officer who arrested the suspect in Monday’s deadly van attack in Toronto is being praised for his remarkable restraint in how he handled the extremely tense situation.
Video footage shows the officer, gun drawn, approaching the driver of the van, who had just mowed down pedestrians along a stretch of Yonge Street, killing 10 and injuring 15.
“Kill me,” person believed to be suspect in Toronto van attack can be heard yelling as Toronto police arrest him.
— CBC News (@CBCNews) April 24, 2018
The driver, Alek Minassian, was in turn pointing a black object that looked like a gun at the officer, his arm outstretched.
But the officer didn’t falter and didn’t fire, even when Minassian twice made like he was quick-drawing a gun from his pocket.
“Come on, get down,” the officer shouts.
“Kill me,” Minassian says.
“No, get down,” the officer responds as he steadily half-circles the driver.
“I have a gun in my pocket,” he yells.
“I don’t care,” the officer replies. “Get down or you’ll be shot. Get down.”
Still pointing the object, Minassian starts to approach the officer. It was as though he wanted to be shot.
It may have been at this time that the officer realized the black object wasn’t a gun, because he holsters his own gun and pulls out a baton. He walks toward Minassian, who drops the object and gets on the ground where the officer handcuffs him.
Police now say there’s no evidence Minassian was armed, according to news reports.
The officer, who has since been identified as Const. Ken Lam, is being praised for not shooting Minassian in the standoff. His restraint seems especially notable at a time when police in various North American cities have faced public condemnation for shooting unarmed or mentally ill suspects.
Mike McCormack, the president of the Toronto Police Association, said the officer’s actions serve as a glimmer of hope for a city caught in tragedy.
“It’s one shining moment in an absolutely game-changing, abysmal, horrific day in the city of Toronto,” McCormack said in a phone interview. “The one … positive to take away from that day was his behaviour.”
With the city still on edge following the midday massacre, many social media users have hailed the officer as a paragon of restraint in the face of abject terror based on footage of his tense standoff with Minassian.
“It could have gone either way. Any time, if that threat escalated, we could have had a different outcome,” McCormack said of the arrest.
“He reacted to what he was seeing, what his training taught him, and we’re extremely proud of him. He may have prevented additional deaths.”
With files from The Canadian Press