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‘Kill me,’ said Toronto driver who mowed down 10. ‘Get down,’ cop replied

A rented van plowed down a crowded Toronto sidewalk on Monday, killing 10 people and injuring 15 before the driver fled and was quickly arrested in a confrontation with police

world Updated: Apr 24, 2018 22:27 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times, Toronto
Toronto,Toronto Police officer,Canada
Video footage showed the police officer staring down the suspect at gunpoint in the middle of a street, while the man pointed what appeared to be a gun and shouted “Kill me.”(Youttube Screenshot)

The confrontation lasted less than a minute but several videos of a Toronto police officer taking down the man responsible for driving a van into pedestrians, killing 10 and injuring 15 more, have gone viral globally as much for the cop’s restraint as his heroics.

The police officer, identified on Tuesday as Constable Ken Lam, is seen emerging alone from his vehicle as he draws out his weapon and gets into a standoff with Alek Minassian, the 25-year-old accused of the carnage.

“Kill me!” the driver shouts. The policeman repeatedly asks him to “Get down!”, at one point pausing to switch off the siren in his vehicle. “Shoot me in the head,” Minassian shouts back as Lam again tells him to get down.

“I have a gun in my pocket,” Minassian threatens. “I don’t care,” Lam responds, before finally rushing Minassian, pinning him to the ground and handcuffing him. In the backdrop is the yellow signage of a store in what appears to be Farsi in an area with a large concentration of Iranian-origin immigrants.

In one video of the encounter, the person making the cellphone stream calls out to the policeman after the takedown, wanting to shake his hand. The burly, bald-headed officer obliges.

Lam has already earned praise on social media and been described as a “hero”. During a news conference, Toronto Police chief Mark Saunders said the officer “did a fantastic job with respect to utilising his ability of understanding the circumstance and environment and having a peaceful resolution”.

Public safety and emergency preparedness minister Ralph Goodale tweeted: “Grateful for the brave and professional response of @TorontoPolice and other first responders to the horrific attack at Yonge and Finch.”

The restraint shown by Lam was in contrast to the use of massive force by US police in recent times, and even past criticism of Toronto Police in this regard, particularly in the shooting of a teenager in July 2013.

Media response was swift. The National Post’s report on the incident used the quote “This guy is a hero” as the Toronto Star headlined its story “Cop deserves a medal”. Maclean’s magazine had a post about “The cop who didn’t shoot”.

First Published: Apr 24, 2018 08:43 IST