Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale praised the “brave and professional” police response after Alek Minassian allegedly plowed a rental van into pedestrians in Toronto. Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, said the officer was a “hero” and could have justified opening fire, “This officer looked at what was going on and determined he could handle it the way that he did.”
The officer said, “I just did my job. What I did was no big deal. But look at these poor people.” The officer’s action was a big deal. He’s a hero.
In the United States of America, the man would be dead — particularly if the alleged killer was a Black male. According to The Washington Post, in 2017, 987 people were shot and killed by police. This year so far, 344 people have been fatally shot by police. I pointed out in my post, Shot in the Back Seven Times, that police have a difficult job — probably the most difficult job in America … yet the growing cowardice among police officers is disturbing.
On March 18, two Sacramento Police Department officers responded to reports of someone smashing car windows in the neighborhood where Stephon Clark’s grandmother lived. At approximately 9:30pm, they opened fire on Clark outside his home, shooting at him 20 times. In the third screen shot I posted, it was clear both officers had taken a defensive position behind the corner of the house. They were not at risk. There was no reason to “fear for their lives.”
Seconds later, the officers opened fire. They shot Mr. Clark, the 22-year-old father of two, eight times — seven times in the back. An eighth bullet hit him in the leg. He didn’t have a weapon — only a cell phone. It remains unclear why Stephon Clark was running through backyards of his neighbors. It was dark, confusing and scary for the officers. Would I pull the trigger? Would you?
Canadian Police Demonstrate Greater Courage
There has been a concerted effort by the Toronto Police Service to train officers to de-escalate dangerous situations rather than open fire. Toronto police had suffered widespread criticism for their use of force. “High-profile police shootings in recent years prompted scrutiny of officers’ use of force, and led to formal calls to change police tactics in order to de-escalate standoffs,” the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reports.
In response, the Toronto Police Services Board now provides hundreds of officers stun guns instead of guns. Toronto law enforcement officials also conducted an extensive review of their “use-of-force options” and now require training sessions on de-escalation. Police are taught to use as little force as possible in any given situation.
In the U.S., the officer would have a “duty” to kill the suspect, if the object he was pointing was a gun.
Police in the U.S. appear to have a more aggressive attitude. Michael Lyman, professor of criminal justice at Columbia College of Missouri, told the BBC American police officers would probably “feel a duty to kill the suspect.” Lyman claims it’s concerning the officer did not engage the suspect with deadly force, as it appeared he was holding a gun and pointing it toward officers.
Rather than show the video between Alek Minassian and the officer, I’ve captured screen shots to slow down the action. This is a 30-second clip. In real life, it’s a flash during a high-stress situation. A person’s life can end or continue. Much depends on the courage and mindset of the officer with a gun.
Numerous officers in the U.S. have killed a suspect for simply reaching into their pocket. The incident with Alek Minassian likely would have ended in two seconds had this been an American police officer.
It’s rare to hear of a situation where a man who rapidly moves his arms upward and into a firing position would not be shot by an American police officer. For example, a settlement was reached between former Weirton police officer Stephen Mader and the City of Weirton in a lawsuit challenging the termination of Mr. Mader’s employment because he chose not to shoot and kill a suicidal Black man he concluded did not pose a threat warranting the use of deadly force. The city terminated the officer for not shooting R.J. Williams, a young Black man. An investigation later revealed Mr. Williams’ gun was unloaded.
When the officer failed to shoot, Alek Minassian dropped his arms and taunted the police officer to shoot him.
Alek Minassian raised his arms and again assumed a firing position. The Canadian officer continued to exercise restraint and didn’t shoot.
The police officer left his position of cover and exposed himself to harm.
Alek Minassian taunts the police officer to “Kill me!” The officer refused, and instead, instructed Minassian to get down on the ground.
Alek Minassian continued his taunting. The Canadian officer didn’t take the bait. “I don’t care, get down,” he replied.
Alek Minassian now walked toward the officer with arms raised in a firing position. With the gap narrowing and facing the barrel of a gun, the Canadian officer maintained his cool.
Alek Minassian directed the officer to “Shoot me in the head.” What courage and poise demonstrated by the Canadian officer.
Alek Minassian is threatening. What would you do? Time slows in such situations. It’s only a short thirty seconds, but a lifetime for both the Canadian officer and disturbed man.
The Canadian police officer won! He remained cool and courageous. Alek Minassian finally dropped to the ground and the officer cuffed him. The tense and deadly ordeal ended.
Use Only Minimal Physical Force
The British invented modern policing in the early 19th century and established the Peelian Principles of policing by consent. One of those principles is “to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.”
The Economist published deaths from police shootings comparing four nations in 2014. Obviously, the number of deaths is “off the chart” in the U.S.A.
Tom Baird, writing in a Canadian publication, The Independent, posted aggregate figures for fatal shootings across six nations. Something is clearly amiss in the U.S.A.
Total fatal police shootings/law enforcement homicides per year
Adjusting Mr. Baird’s figures to population size of the countries, we see the relative differences with the U.S. leading all other advanced nations combined.
Fatal police shootings/law enforcement homicides per million people
Police in America shoot to kill and ask questions afterward. Scary, isn’t it? Please leave your comments below and be sure to FOLLOW ClearHeath Life Strategies. We provide News of the News You Wish You Knew.