Toronto van attack: Police officer commended for refusal to shoot suspect

'Get down or you'll be shot': Dramatic police standoff with suspect in Toronto van attack

Toronto police Const. Ken Lam, who refused to shoot the man suspected of plowing a van into crowds of pedestrians on Monday, killing 10 people, was praised for restraint in the face of a suspect who claimed to have a gun.

Video footage shows Lam 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.” The video, showed the suspect repeatedly pulling an object from his side and aiming at police.

READ MORE: Alek Minassian suspected driver in Toronto van attack that killed 10

The arrest was praised as a welcome example of police restraint in the midst of chaos, coming just minutes after a white rental van plowed into a lunchtime crowd in north Toronto, killing 10 people and injuring 15 in one of the most violent incidents in Canadian history.

Video captures standoff, arrest of suspect in deadly Toronto van attack

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.”

Ken Lam is the Toronto police officer who arrested van attack suspect Alek Minassian on April 23, 2018.

Ken Lam is the Toronto police officer who arrested van attack suspect Alek Minassian on April 23, 2018.

Supplied photo / Global News

LISTEN: Former Toronto police chief Julian Fantino on the police response

Toronto police identified the man arrested as Alek Minassian, 25, of Richmond Hill, a neighborhood close to Toronto.

READ MORE: Get down or you’ll be shot’: Video shows police standoff with suspect in Toronto van attack

“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.

“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.”

READ MORE: City of Toronto bands together after van strikes, kills 9, injures 16 pedestrians

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said that the officer’s behavior reflected the “high caliber 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.

The non-violent end to the standoff won plaudits on social media.

READ MORE: Eyewitnesses describe panic as van hits Toronto pedestrians

“Wow, at how these Canadian cops brought in this suspected killer,” said Twitter user Stuart A. Thompson in a posting.

WATCH: Van mows down pedestrians in Toronto; driver arrested

Police in the United States have been criticized for being too quick to pull the trigger after a series of high-profile police shootings and deaths of suspects during arrest.

Witnesses in Toronto expressed horror at the murders.

Young Lee, a 56-year-old attorney, looked out his third-floor office window on Yonge Street and was shocked to see medics attempting to resuscitate two of the victims.

“I’ve never seen violence like this here in Toronto,” Lee said. “I felt a mix of rage and a lot of sympathy for the victims.”

Lam has not commented on the standoff or arrest.

© 2018 Reuters

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