Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

Everybody is talking about the recent shooting on the TTC streetcar, as they damn well should be.

I have a few questions I’d like answered.  It’s my coping mechanism with what I deem to be the worst occurrence in Toronto in years…

DropKnife

I’m aware that I haven’t been writing about real estate as much lately.

Part of that is because we’re heading into the slowest month of the real estate calendar (outside of Christmas, perhaps), and thus there’s not a whole lot of new stories to report, but it’s also because there are so many other issues going on in our city; those political, financial, economic, and now, in my opinion, criminal.

When I was in a rather trying phase of life, from about 19 to 22, I found the best way to cope with my problems, for some reason, was to write about them.  I would sit in front of the computer and write my thoughts out in what could be described as a “diary” of sorts (although hopefully somewhat manlier…), and it helped.  Maybe it was because I had to think my way through it, or maybe it was because I would watch the words flow out onto the screen.  But even today, if I’m stressed or anxious, I find myself writing…

This is one of those times.

I am so incredibly disturbed by what happened on the Dundas TTC streetcar two days ago that it’s kept me up at night, and I get that feeling in the pit of my stomach – you know the one where you feel like you’re going over the edge of a roller coaster?

Let’s be honest – people live and people die.  Bad things happen.  Etc.

But this is not that simple.  This is, in my opinion, a modern-day execution on a public street of the city we call home.

I don’t want to opine here, because everybody in the city is putting in their two cents.

But rather I have to ask some questions, to who, I don’t know.  I guess just out loud, in order to get my thoughts together, and perhaps answer questions that I deem to be rhetorical.

Oh – and if you have no clue what I’m talking about, and you haven’t seen the video (I feel guilty even posting the link, but I think people have a right and a duty to be in the know), then CLICK HERE.

1) Why did they shoot him?

Not, “Why did they shoot him nine times,” we’ll get to that.  But simply, “Why did they shoot him?”

This was a kid, on a streetcar, with a knife.

There was nobody else on the streetcar.

It was just him, and nobody else.

He wasn’t holding the knife to an old lady’s throat.  If he was, then yes, the situation calls for drastic measures.

But from what we know now, and from what the police undoubtedly knew then (advocates might say, “There could have been somebody hiding under a seat!”), there was just ONE person on that streetcar, and he had a knife.  He wasn’t more than 15-feet away from the police officers (all twenty-two of them), who had GUNS.

Why did they shoot him?

2) Why did they shoot him three times, then SIX more times?

Watch the video, and pay attention.

The police officer shot the kid three times: BANG-BANG-BANG, then there’s a  5 1/2 second paus, then BANG-BANG-BANG….BANG…..BANG….BANG.

It was almost methodical.

One former police officer suggested, in the CBC interview found HERE, that the police officer lowered his aim significantly for the second set of shots, after the pause, suggesting that he was shooting the boy as he laid on the floor of the streetcar.  This means that the cop shot him three times, then the boy fell, then the police officer shot him six more times.

3) Why didn’t they wait?

Were they in a hurry?

Why did they shoot so quickly, when they did?

What would have been wrong with waiting another minute, or hour, or day?

Why did they feel that something needed to be done, right then and there?

You can hear the police officer say, “You take one step in this direction, that’s it for you.”

Really?

Why?

We’re watching the video – the kid didn’t exactly leap out of the streetcar with a knife and start swinging.  He was INSIDE the streetcar, with a knife, and there were a dozen officers outside with guns drawn.

Why didn’t they wait?

Where’s the negotiator?

Where’s the plea?

Where’s the logical, rational, sensible person saying, “Please, let’s end this calmly, please put the knife down, we can talk this out”?

4) Why didn’t they taser him BEFORE killing him?

The cop shot the kid nine times.

Why didn’t they taser him instead?

Why didn’t they throw a baseball at him or something?

Why did they shoot him NINE TIMES when they could have tasered him, gassed him, or done anything other than kill him?

5) Why did they taser him AFTER shooting him?

They shot the kid nine times – six times after he hit the ground.

THEN they felt the need to taser him?

Was this practice?

Did they think they were tasering a dummy?

Or did they realize that when you shoot somebody nine times, unless it’s in Die Hard or Terminator, they, you know, usually DIE?

6) Why didn’t any other police officers intervene?

Why wasn’t this a group effort?

Why was ONE officer at the helm?

When the officer shot the kid three times, why didn’t anybody else step in and say, “Okay, that’s good, step back”?

When the officer shot the kid ANOTHER six times, why didn’t somebody step in and pull him away?

7) How dangerous WAS this situation, really, with all those other people standing by?

Whether you’re looking at the video, or reading witness accounts, you can tell that many people were within reach of this streetcar, and none of them seemed to feel there was enough danger to warrant running for their lives.

On the video, you can see one woman standing with her arms folded as she simply watches.  Somebody calmly rides by on a bicycle and looks on.

Then you can see cars driving by, east and west.

Was this situation really that dire, if life just seemed to be moving on all around it?

8) What is protocol?

This is one of the questions that MUST be answered, by Bill Blair, in the next few days.

The public has to be told what police officers are trained, instructed, and expected to do in a situation like this.

I’m going to hazard a guess that if a kid has a knife on a streetcar and there’s nobody around, protocol is NOT to shoot him nine times and then taser his limp body.

I think the public, who the police officers are here to serve and protect, and whose tax dollars pay for every aspect of policing, have a right to know what SHOULD have happened in this case, so we can compare it to what did happen.

9) Who is the offending officer?

I don’t care to know his name and address, but I’d like to know:

-his age
-how long he’s been an active officer
-how long he had been on shift that night

10) Would we be having this conversation if the event weren’t caught on tape?

Sadly, I think the answer is “no.”

11) Why did this happen?

I don’t think that’s a question we can ever answer.

We can’t get into the head of the police officer.

And we don’t know what it’s like to be a police officer.  We don’t know the culture of the force, and what it’s like to be “the guy with the gun” as your colleagues watch on.

But I’d like to know why this happened, probably more than any of the individual questions above.

 


For what it’s worth, here are the five most recent comments on the CBC.ca’s website:

“This was an execution, pure and simple.”

“22 witness officers plus one can’t take down kid with a knife trapped on a street car? But we all know how this will play out in the end.”

“The odds here were clearly in favor of the police…there was no need to kill him.  3 shots and the 6 more for good measure…i doubt the guy posed a lethal threat even after the first shot….cops use hollow point bullets ..im sure the first shot incapacitated the kid. shame on the police!!!”

“Without trying to be politically correct here – the police murdered a person. 9 bullet shots and then tasering to ensure completeness. No court or SIU will find these police guilty. Welcome to your democracy.”

“An 18 year old frightened teen, an empty street car, multiple police, 9 shots?  Then tasering?  No waiting, no calming down?  Maybe we should take our chances with criminals on the streets, as the police are obviously much more reactionary and dangerous.”

 


Maybe we’re all doing some Monday morning quarterbacking here, after the fact.

Maybe every police officer in the city is saying, “Put yourself in that situation – heart racing, happening so fast – see how you respond.”

Maybe there’s (much) more to this story.

But every time I try, desperately, to see this in any other way, or in any other light, I come to my senses.

It’s one think to be kept in the dark and make assumptions, but in this case, we have the whole goddam event on VIDEO!  From different angles, and with modern technology, they’ve been able to zoom in, remove audio distortion, and get as close to the action as those involved.

On March 3rd, 1991, Rodney King was tackled, beaten, kicked, tasered, and pounded with police batons by five Los Angeles Police Department officers, and it was caught on a shaky 90’s camcorder from a distance by a neighborhood resident.  This was the first instance of “police brutality” being caught on tape, and instead of relying on the complaints and words of victims (or perpetrator, if you’re a cop…), society was given a visual account of what really happened.

Over 22-years later, our technology has improved exponentially, and social media has taken over the world to the point where you can’t cross the street without twelve people catching it on film.

I think that this case is going to get international attention, and it’s going to cause a chain reaction of public outrcy and concern that flows throughout North America, and affects policing in 2013, and makes people on this planet more accountable for their actions.

Of course, as we saw with Rodney King, sometimes justice has a strange way of playing itself out.

One thing is for certain: we’ve only seen the beginning of this story.

Not a good day for our dear city of Toronto…

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  3. ScottyP says:

    You’re absolutely right Jen, that people become enraged without knowing all the facts, then move on to the next story without taking the time to reevaluate their original opinions. People also tend to show an inflexibility in admitting that their original opinion was inaccurate in light of new information. This is all true.

    But what Jeff was talking about was the ideal: That people feel free to form their opinions, and to modify them as new facts and information come to light. That people are generally better at forming than modifying opinions is an unfortunate reality of the human condition… but to not form them at all until all the facts are clear is not only unrealistic (as I mentioned in my original reply), but as Jeff implied potentially dangerous.

    If people did what you suggested and withheld their opinions until all the facts came out — and from only the most unimpeachable of sources — then they’d merely move on to the next story as they always do without having had anything to say on the subject in the first place. The fact that people have short attention spans is the very reason why I’d prefer they display their (somewhat uninformed) outrage than to consistently say or think nothing at all because “well, I don’t know all the facts.”

    I’ll finish by agreeing that people will rarely question the source; nor will they usually make the effort to compile the necessary evidence to support their contentions, much of which is often readily available. Again, all of this is true. Things are by no means perfect, but they could be worse — after all, nothing is more dangerous to a society than apathy.

    1. jeff316 says:

      Exactly.

  4. ScottyP says:

    Well put, Jeff.

  5. Jen says:

    Hogwash Jeff. People form opinions with limited information and then move on to the next story they read about in the news, that they can judge. The vast majority of the population does not go back and ‘reevaluate’ their opinions as new facts emerge? They also spew their opinions to anyone who will listen and a big portion of those people, take those opinions as facts, without ever even verifying the authenticity of the source. And so on and so on. THAT is the recipe for pure ignorance.

    1. jeff316 says:

      The amount of information a person can take in is always limited, particularly in the era of nearly unlimited information. To not form an opinion about something because information is limited is a recipe for no opinions at all. That is the most lazy, uncritical, unintelligent, non-analytical society possible.

      The worst in ignorance isn’t having an opinion based on limited information. It is having no opinion at all. As Scotty said, nothing is more dangerous than apathy.

      Your approach – no one form an opinion until you know everything about that issue – is one hundred percent ignorance and apathy.

  6. Jen says:

    No one has any business, having any opinions (including you David), about a situation they actually know nothing about. The adage of ‘innocent until proven guilty” applies to both the victim and the perpetrator in this case.

    This is exactly how many of the problems of the world get started…when people jump to conclusions about things they actually don’t have all the information about. Especially when they form those opinions after watching a YouTube video! What, you now have all the pertinent facts to vilify someone? You heard it on the news?!? Well it MUST be true!! C’mon.

    The cop may very well be a horrible, gun-happy individual who deserves to rot in jail for taking some young innocent man’s life. OR he could be someone who saved the 70 people standing near that streetcar, who would have died because he had a bomb in his backpack. The ONLY fact that is relevant at this stage, is that YOU DON”T KNOW ALL THE FACTS.

    1. ScottyP says:

      David never said he had all the facts. He said he had questions.

      I agree wholeheartedly that people (not to mention the media) are too quick to jump to conclusions based on little evidence. However, in this case the little “YouTube video” you referenced is a pretty compelling piece of evidence.

      While due process is entirely justified (and must be respected), so are the questions. If you truly expect people not to ask questions in light of this video, then you are being completely unrealistic.

      1. Jen says:

        A few things, I never said people shouldn’t ask questions? Of course they should, that’s how facts are found. What I said, was that people shouldn’t form OPINIONS, without having all the facts.

        On the surface, the Youtube video may look like a compelling piece of evidence. But for argument’s sake, can you see in the video if the guy has dynamite strapped to his chest? If he did, would that not change people’s “opinions” of this entire event?

        I recognize, this is probably not what happened. My point is merely that we all need to be very careful about how we view things that happen in life. My motto is always seek first to understand, judge later.

        1. lui says:

          I agree with Jen,the bottom line is police are trained professionals and see details the normal youtube warrior can’t see,Im sure hes not a cold bloody killer and hes also living the nightmare of taking some one life.People like Jesse saying “Toronto failed” Sammy is a load of crap,the only person who failed Sammy is Sammy.Even if the police was found he used justifiable force the police haters would say it was rigged and SIU is always pro police.

          1. ScottyP says:

            I still see David presenting more questions than facts here. No one really knows the facts, I’ll give you that. But we will soon enough.

            Or, will we? I fear a whitewash, where the witnessing officers will come to their fellow officer’s aid and fudge the true level of danger they believed they were faced with at the time of the shooting. Heck, over half of the officers in the video look like they’re standing around waiting for their midnight coffee, for crying out loud.

            And with bystanders lingering around and cars passing by sans perimeter like this was a standard “get the mentally ill person off the street” moment, well… let’s just say that those nine shots have an “unexpected” feel to them. (Put another way, if the threat level was indeed high, why wasn’t a perimeter set up? Are 22 officers not enough to pull that off?)

            The whole thing stinks, but I agree that we must let due process take its course. The question is, how much faith should we have in due process? Both you (Jen) and lui seem to have plenty of faith in our system, which is fine. But not everyone holds such a rosy view.

        2. jeff316 says:

          The point isn’t to avoid forming opinions before one knows all the facts. That is incorrect. That is a recipe for the worst in ignorance.

          No one ever knows all of the “facts”. Facts aren’t extra flakes of cereal you find when you take the empty cereal bag out of the box and then once the box is empty you’ve exhausted all of the facts. “Facts” aren’t tangible, aren’t universal, aren’t immune to interpretation, opinion, influence or nuance.

          People should form all of the opinions they want, whenever they want to.

          The point is to reevaluate your opinions as new “facts” emerge.

  7. Jesse says:

    Thank you for posting this. There is no doubt in my mind that Toronto failed this young man terribly. As for comments re posting only about real estate – residential real estate is about out city at large and all within it. It was narrow minded ness that likely led to the result of this incidence. Open up, all of us

    1. lui says:

      How can “Toronto” fail this young man..In life you walk the path you decide and no one tells you what to think or do.Sammy put himself into a position where a police officer had to make a choice that led to his death.Was it excessive …maybe but its up to the SIU to decide.

  8. Jesse says:

    Thank you for posting this. There is no doubt in my mind that Toronto failed this young man terribly. As for comments re posting only about real estate – residential real estate is about out city at large and all within it. It was narrow minded ness that likely led to the result of this incidence. Open up, all of us.

  9. lui says:

    David I think TRB should stick with real estate and any related issues not about politics or moral aspects in general,your wonderful blog will get out of control if you talk about touchy issues like this.If I wanted to argue about justify or un justify shootings from the police I go on other social sites.I want to hear about your in sight about real estate and maybe some of your personal experiences but really about these topics no.

    1. Graham says:

      If you don’t want to read these types of posts, it’s pretty easy to skip them. Some of us might enjoy David’s insights on topics beyond real estate.

      1. lui says:

        maybe some gets turn off about it but dont comment or worst leave the blog all together.

    2. @ lui

      I appreciate the feedback, I do.

      I contemplated this blog post for some time, and wavered about whether or not to post it. But in the end, I decided that this is probably the biggest event in our city in a half-decade, with major implications moving forward, and it was something I wanted to talk about.

      My blog – Toronto Realty Blog – is primarily focused on real estate. But it’s also focused on Toronto, and it’s also focused on me. I like to write about political, economic, and social issues that affect Toronto, because real estate in the long run will always be tied to the city we live in. Once in a while, I like to write about myself, be it my wedding or my dog. And now and again, I’ll pop in with something that has nothing to do wih any of the above, such as my rant about high school kids and how education standards are plummeting.

      I am opionated, but honest. I am forthcoming, and I am typically fair. I don’t shy away from hot button issues, such as commissions, discount brokerages, bad Realtors, etc., and I won’t shy away from controversy, whether it has to do with real estate or not.

      I was deeply disturbed by the TTC shooting, and the implications it has. I love Toronto, but I have a serious problem (as you can tell from my posts in the last few years), with how our city is run, across the board. This shooting is a microcosm of a much larger issue – governance. But at the basic level, it was one man versus another man, with an outcome that we all know (so far…) could have been avoided, and it scares us all. No, none of us would be on a streetcar with a knife, but what if you were pulled over for making an illegal left turn, and the cop spit in your face, and broke your driver’s side mirror? That’s the comparison I draw for those of us who can’t relate to being on a streetcar with a knife.

      In the end, this is a topic that affects us all, and thus I felt it should be discussed.

      1. J says:

        @ David Fleming

        I want to put my two cents in.

        The media hates Toronto Police. The media loves to “lie” (ie leave out vital details) so they can spin the story how they want. I know this for a fact from inside info I get about the police from a loved one who does not exaggerate the story and who puts his life at risk daily for the people of Toronto with no thanks. I am sick of hearing how awful the police are when everyone is basing it on one side of the story. And no Blair is not going to stand up and support the officers because he is all about politics and he probably wants to run for something.

        The reality of the situation is that a young adult went on public transportation and threatened everyone off it with his knife. This is a criminal we are talking about. Yes he probably has a heartbreaking story, but so do many gang members, rapists and murderers. The reason he was shot is that he was moving toward the door to get off the streetcar while wielding a knife, and hence no longer be safely contained. The police officers have the option of a baton or a gun. Knife versus baton would be dumb, the policeman wants to go home to his family. Police and the army are taught that if you are going to shoot, you shoot to kill. Only their superiors have tasers, so a mid-range less deadly option was not available to the police present until the supervisor showed up (which is when the tasering happened in the video, because the guy was still trying to get out).

        Why did the policeman keep shooting? The guy with the knife, despite being shot at was still taunting them and had an adrenaline rush that let him continue to try to leave the car. The police officer had probably never shot a human, was terrified, and he missed… plus the guy kept coming toward him trying to leave the streetcar. This is called “Suicide by Cop”. It is not a rare event. If you continue to threaten the potential safety of the officer it is within their right to shoot. Sadly there are deranged people in the world who do things we will not understand, and Sammy did something we do not understand which is continue to disobey until the police shot him dead. The police officer was within his right. Now if all cops could have taser, he could have tasered him instead of killing him but the RCMP ruined that.

        By the way, the guy had a knife in one hand and his dick in the other. He was not just a great kid turned bad that day. Based on some other evidence, he very likely had gang associations. His Facebook apparently (this, I admit, I cannot confirm is true however) had lots of photos of guns. He was not your A+ student wanting to become a Doctor or save the world suddenly having a psychotic breakdown.

        Quit beating down the cops and appreciate that we have some bad crime in the city with too little police with poor quality/old equipment. They are stretched, over worked, poorly supported, and by contract not allowed to complain about it. Their superiors will happily throw them under the bus rather than support then (eg Blair). The media always makes them look bad because it gets everyone going (this blog is the perfect example). For instance, G20 according to the media made the police look like the bad guys, but no one ever reported the background story of what really happened (the police prevented a worse situation).

        Get your facts straight before making a rant. And I agree with lui, stick to real estate.

  10. Daniel says:

    Holy crap, since when did people get so racist?

    STANSKY is indirectly supporting this.

    1. JoBu says:

      Racist? Is it racist if its true?

      Most terrorists on American soil are of Muslim descent. FACT.

      Just sayin… facts ain’t racist Danny Boy…

      1. Frances says:

        JoBu, you have proof? And how do you define “terrorist”?

  11. RPG says:

    David, you were right in that the comments on the CBC, Globe, Sun, and Post are about 99% against the police officer’s actions. But many of the comments on your blog today (albiet from the same 1-2 people), are taking a different tone. Care to speculate on why the difference?

    1. Stansky says:

      Liberal MSM bias.

      Accuse first, let proper channels/courts investigate/determine later.

      IE Trayvon.

  12. JG says:

    I think the issue here was the Police may have been scared the person would have or could have driven off with the streetcar and caused untold damage.

    Look at what happend to Sgt Ryan Russel? They tried doing it a peaceful way and he ended up being killed. Im sure that incident is still in the cops minds so if they felt there was a chance to drive off with the strertcar they made a decision to end it there.

    Would Sgt Ryan Russell still be alive today if they had shot to kill the snowplow driver sooner?

    Its just another thought/angle on this situation.

    1. jeff316 says:

      Not really. Lock him in the streetcar and shut down the power.

      It’s easy to incapacitate a streetcar. Heck, the TTC’s own drivers seem to do a good job of that all the time, in the middle of rush hour! 🙂

      1. AsianSensation says:

        Zing!

    2. Frances says:

      Sgt. Russell would be alive today if he hadn’t tried to stop the truck by standing in front of it. And he would be alive today if the truck driver had turned off the engine and taken the keys with him. The situations are not comparable.

  13. J says:

    In today’s Toronto Sun and National Post, it’s been made known that the kid was telling the cop, “You’re a f****** pussy.” Then the cop started shooting. It’s as if the cop was saying, “Oh, I’m a pussy am I? Well watch THIS.” It’s tough to see any way that the cop didn’t get emotionally and personally involved, and the results speak for themselves.

    1. Stansky says:

      I bet that c&cksucker in Boston also taunted the police.

      Is it smart to taunt people with guns drawn on you?

  14. Mike says:

    Guy that got shot by police facebook profile images:

    http://imgur.com/a/HRvjJ

    While the video doesn’t look good, lets wait and see what the SIU say.

    1. Stansky says:

      Wow. What a POS. Another Tsarnaev in a few years?

    2. RPG says:

      Oh, he had a photo of a gun on Facebook.

      Okay, shoot him nine times when he has a knife then…

      1. Stansky says:

        Pure terrorist. ‘Persian Pride’ indeed.

        1. Kyle says:

          Whatever his Facebook said is irrelevant to whether he should have been shot for having a knife. Using it to justify or validate what happened is really the height of stupidity. Think about it for a minute, say some cop abuses his powers on you, that would be like me pointing to your posts here, and saying well that Stansky guy deserved it since he shows clear signs of being a bigot.

  15. Carole Anne says:

    Good article and yes the whole scenario raises many additional questions. As some of your other posts above opion…we were not there therefore do not know what really happened on that bus.
    But YES, the old adage….”Never bring a knife to a gunfight”…is aptly current.
    Shoot him in the leg, dis-arm (de-knife) him and ask questions !
    Dead Guys can’t talk.
    Our police these days seem to be afraid, stressed out and on edge.

    1. Frank says:

      Handguns are not nearly as accurate as movies would have you think. Cops are taught to aim for “centre of mass”, the center of the largets part of the target you can see. The idea of “shoot to wound” is not practical in real life.

  16. Stansky says:

    I kinda get it though…A Syrian guy with a big knife, who apparently had his genitals out, post the Boston bombings, yelling ‘you’re all fucking pussies’ (verbatim to the Post this AM). I mean it’s unfortunate sure, but put yourself in those situations, and you might get shot. I understand how this could happen.

    So this guy should be in prison for a long time instead of dead. But do we really want this guy around the city period? Do we want to pay our tax dollars to keep this idiot imprisoned? Im not saying we just start Judge Dredding people, but I can understand it, and its unfortunate, but it is what it is.

  17. Perfect Fit says:

    If you have a knife, and a cop tells you to put the knife down… well, you should. I can’t help but wonder why he didn’t, and what drugs he was high on. Some of them completely override the pain response and it is completely possible that if he only actually got shot once that he could have continued to react negatively. Is that what happened? I doubt it. However, that doesn’t mean that scenario hasn’t happened in the past, or prevent it from happening again. I’m uncomfortable with the whole damn situation, no matter what actually happened.

  18. dave says:

    Toronto’s police force is overstaffed, and absurdly overpaid (best of any major city in North America). A big part of the city’s budget problems comes from our bloated police force. Our police chief earns twice that of his NYC counterpart, and more than our prime minister.

    But before now I’d never viewed them as incompetent. But leaving aside the egregiousness of the shooting itself, watching that video with a dozen of the police just sort of milling around moments before the shooting with no plan or organization, really highlights how much we’re overpaying for a mediocre police force.

  19. johnny chase says:

    Remember those meat head bullies in high school? The one who weren’t smart enough to get into university and graduated with a chip on their shoulder?

    They’re now cops, and they love intimidating people and using their position of strength to bully and play by their own rules.

    Most cops are dumb really. If you challenge them intellectually, they use physically force and intimidation to beat you down.

    Time to cut their budget by 10% and remove some cops from the streets. We have more than ehough.

    1. Jen says:

      You sound an awfully lot like one of those meat heads….you probably tried to get on the police force and didn’t pass the psych test. Or the spelling test for that matter.

      1. ScottyP says:

        Ouch….

  20. P Maitland says:

    Frank,

    No, all officers do not have a Taser yet, but one of them did, and was used it seconds after they shot him.

    I would agree that a person with a knife should be treated seriously by the Police, but in this case, he would have to come down a few steps and through the door of the streetcar, so he did not have a whole lot of space to move.

    Also, the situation that Matt Gurney describes might be reasonable for a single cop against a person with a knife, but in this case there were many officers with weapons, which dramatically lessens the risk of missing if they are lunged at with a knife.

    1. Frank says:

      I wasn’t trying to say this was a 1 to 1 perfect comparison. The point I was trying to make is that when people say “he only had a knife” they are either uninformed to the dangers or being willfully ignorant.

      I also agree with the other comment that 9 shots were fired, we have no idea how many times he was hit. Handguns are not nearly as accurate as movies would have you think/ Cops are taught to aim for “centre of mass”, the center of the largets part of the target you can see.

      1. ScottyP says:

        To borrow your own term, I’d say you’re being willfully obliging of this whole thing, Frank.

        1. Frank says:

          Scotty,

          By no means am I saying the cop was right and acted flawlessly. The point I’m trying to make is this:

          1) a knife is a real threat. The “it’s just a knife” argument is just not accurate

          2) everybody needs to take a deep breath and stop blaming people and try to logically figure out what happened and how we can do better next time.

          1. ScottyP says:

            All right, fair enough Frank.

            I don’t mind being patient, but that video looks terrible. I just can’t see how these actions can be possibly justified with such damning evidence presented before all of our eyes.

  21. Geoff says:

    Hmm I don’t know David… this isn’t a guy just sitting there on a streetcar when the cops unloaded on him. Is it such a wrong message that if you pull a knife on the cops that they are going to shoot you 9 times?

    1. ScottyP says:

      Yeah, I’d say that in a 21st-century democracy that that message pretty much sucks.

      1. Geoff says:

        What does democracy have to do it? In fact I’m saying the opposite: in a civilized society, one doesn’t use a knife to challenge authority.

        1. ScottyP says:

          We are not a police state. We are not a dictatorship. We are not a failed state. We are a first-world nation with laws that must be adhered to, *especially* by those whom we rely on to enforce them.

          That’s what I mean by “democracy”.

        2. jeff316 says:

          Well said, Scotty. I’d add, too, that if it is unacceptable to use a knife to challenge authority in a civilized society, then what does that say about the use of lethal force by gun to challenge someone wielding a knife?

          1. Geoff says:

            Uh Jeff316 – the cops didn’t pull their guns first, and then the kid pulled a knife. The challenge was made by the kid first, not the cops. That said I think it should be investigated, but I don’t think we need to assume the kid is an angel and the cops were trigger happy scumbags either.

          2. Stansky says:

            Dude, What planet are you from?!!

          3. jeff316 says:

            No one is assuming angelic or devilish status for either party. That’s a red herring. The timing of the challenge is also not relevant.

            What is relevant here is that we, as a society, empower certain institutions into positions of authority. We allow those institutions to select, train, and arm people to use the authority we give them to keep peace and protect the public interest.

            Along with that authority and power comes responsibility that the institutions and people we empower use that power for appropriate means and in an appropriate manner. The latter didn’t happen here.

            Again, to ask – if pulling a knife on a person of authority isn’t proper in a civilized society (and I agree, it isn’t), how proper is that the authority, with all of the other options available to them, used the tool of last resort first, responding in the most lethal manner possible? (It isn’t.)

    2. Stansky says:

      What if it was 10 times, would it be worse?

  22. Joe Q. says:

    Not to be nit-pickety, but unless you know something I don’t know, I wouldn’t say that the cop “shot him nine times”, but that he shot AT him nine times. Who knows how many times he was actually hit.

    1. ScottyP says:

      From 15 feet away, I’m thinking his hit rate was pretty decent.

      And if it wasn’t? Then as Peter F. said below, the cop had no business carrying a gun.

      There were innocent bystanders all over the place. If he indeed missed repeatedly, then that’s incredibly reckless in its own right.

  23. Frank says:

    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/07/29/matt-gurney-police-must-respond-aggressively-knife-wielding-assailants/

    Please read this article and understand the actual threat a knife presents. And before your point out that cops have vests, realize that the vest doesn’t cover your legs, throat or arms. All places that have major arteries running through them.

    As for tasers, cops have been asking to have them for all front line officers for years but the public complains that tasers are too dangerous because of the risk of stopping the heart.

    Was this a justified shooting? I sure as hell don’t know.

    At the end of the day, this is a goddamn tragedy but cops can’t be and shouldn’t be expected to be mental health professionals especially in cases like this!

    1. Peter F. says:

      Pretty much a whole division of cops with their guns already drawn negates any argument that that article makes. Yes, if an unassuming cop has his gun holstered and then someone with a knife comes charging at them from 20 feet away, by all means use deadly force, but in this case there is no excuse for how it played out in my opinion.

      As for tasers, I don’t know the point you are trying to make. I’m sure the general public would rather see someone get hit with a taser than get filled with almost an entire clip from a pistol. I’m no expert, but I’d bet the risk of stopping the heart is much higher from 9 bullet wounds than a stern electric shock. And the argument that tasers are deemed too dangerous also gets thrown out the window because…they used one anyway!

      If this officer was missing a majority of these shots and only a couple of the bullets actually hit the teen, then he has no business even carrying a gun. If a police officer can’t hit a non-moving target from 15-20 feet away, he is in the wrong profession.

      This is all so sad and giving the already questionable (at best) image of our police force another big black eye that I’m not sure they can recover from any time soon. If the cops shouldn’t be expected to be mental health professionals, then they shouldn’t be expected to be medieval style executioners either.

    2. ScottyP says:

      Cheers for the link Frank. But with regard to the mortal danger that a knife presents as determined by Sgt. Dennis Tueller in his findings (where an assailant with a knife is considered incredibly dangerous within a 21-foot radius), Gurney had the following to say (in his own article!):

      “(The police) must, of course, use their judgment. And it needs to be pointed out that it does not seem, at first glance, that the Tueller findings would apply to Saturday’s incident in Toronto — the officers already had their guns drawn, were alert to the threat and Yatim would have had to step down a short flight to stairs to exit the streetcar. The 21-foot threat radius metric does not cleanly apply here.”

      Key point: The officers had their guns drawn. A knife is clearly far more dangerous when an officer’s firearm is holstered. Throw in the fact that the assailant would have had to negotiate a set of stairs, and the mortal threat presented is reduced to the point of being almost negligible, IMO. That cop is going to have a high hill to climb, as he damn well should.

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