A police officer who refused to shoot a van rampage suspect in Toronto has been praised.A Toronto police officer who refused to shoot the man suspected of ploughing a van into crowds of pedestrians, killing 10 people, has been praised for restraint in the face of a suspect who claimed to have a gun.
Video footage showed the police officer staring down the suspect at gunpoint in the middle of a street on Monday, while the man pointed what appeared to be a gun and shouted “Kill me.”
The video, obtained by CBC News, showed the suspect repeatedly pulling an object from his side and aiming at police.
The arrest was praised as a welcome example of police restraint in the midst of chaos, coming just minutes after a white rental van ploughed into a lunchtime crowd in north Toronto, killing 10 people and injuring 15 in one of the most violent incidents in Canadian history.
As the suspect shouted “Kill me,” the officer replied, “No, get down.” When the suspect said, “I have a gun in my pocket,” the officer responded: “I don’t care. Get down.”
Toronto police identified the man arrested as Alek Minassian, 25, of Richmond Hill, a neighbourhood close to Toronto.
“It’s quite apparent that the suspect was trying to be executed. He was really looking for ‘suicide-by-cop,'” Gary Clement, a retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police superintendent with 34 years experience of policing, told Reuters.
The Toronto Police Service declined to name the officer involved in the stand-off, but Clement said he appeared to be a “very seasoned and mature officer.”
“I would say this individual met the right police officer,” Clement said. “Nobody knows how they’re going to react. In this situation a lot of it comes down to muscle memory. This guy reacted in a very mature manner.”
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said the officer’s behaviour reflected the “high calibre of training that takes place.
“They are taught to use as little force as possible in any given situation,” he said.
It helped that the officer had a clear view of the suspect, who was out of the van and pacing between the sidewalk and the arresting officer, Clement said.
Police in the US have been criticised for being too quick to pull the trigger after a series of high-profile police shootings and deaths of suspects during arrest.
Australian Associated Press