Friday, February 10, 2012

Torontonian Shot and Killed by Police

Yet another police shooting fatality!  A dozen or more police officers were not able to subdue, arrest, restrain one man with scissors?  What about talking calmly with the man?  Calling in an experienced crisis worker?  Yes these solutions may have taken longer but in the end isn't a life saved worth the extra time and trouble?  I know what the cops will say.  There wasn't time, the man presented a danger, etc, etc.  Then why not use other police "tools" which we know police are well trained and experienced in using, as evidenced by the high incidence of their over use...tasers and pepper spray.  Police are trained in the take town of high risk persons.  The public are led to believe that non lethal tactics will be employed first, with tactics likely to kill employed only as a final, last ditch, emergency effort.

The Toronto Star had this report;

Neighbours who watched police shoot dead a 29-year-old man wearing a hospital gown in Toronto’s east end Friday are questioning whether excessive force was used.
Douglas Pritchard, who was 10 metres away, said there were enough police around to subdue the victim on Milverton Blvd., a few blocks south of Toronto East General Hospital.
But another neighbour, also close, believes police had no other choice.
The shooting occurred about 20 minutes after paramedics were called to a stabbing inside a nearby convenience store, at the corner of Sammon and Woodington Aves., across from the hospital.
An EMS official said those injuries were minor.
Witnesses reported that the man arrived on Milverton just after 10 a.m. and began banging on the back door of a house and trying to get in.
The man — who witnesses described as wearing no shoes and wielding two pairs of scissors — was fatally shot on the quiet residential street at around 10:15 a.m.
He was taken to St. Michael’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The victim has not yet been identified.
Toronto police would not provide details of the shooting because it is now being probed by the province’s Special Investigations Unit.
In previous cases of police shootings where the use of deadly force has been questioned, officer have said they are trained to shoot at the centre of the body, not arms or legs.
However, the incident has raised alarming concerns for Pritchard, 63, who was out running with his dog.
Pritchard said he saw a middle-aged man, about 5-foot-8 with dark hair and wearing a blue shirt that looked like a hospital gown. About five or six officers were behind the man trying to grab or restrain him and another two or three were in front, Pritchard said.
“And then I saw one officer raise his arm and fire at him point blank three shots,” said Pritchard, adding the shots were fired from about half a metre away.
Pritchard said that, as far as he could see, the man was not brandishing any weapons.
He fell to the pavement and police jumped on top of him, still trying to restrain him while his body was writhing, said Pritchard, adding the officers continued to restrain the man until his body stopped moving.
“My concern is, is this a man with mental health issues? From the time I came on the scene they had him surrounded with 11 police cars in total. I counted. There must have been 15 officers around this man in total,” said Pritchard.
“Was this an appropriate use of force in this situation? Was there a mental health team on site?”
People need to know the answers to these questions, he said.
“It gives me a real concern to see that level of force applied and someone shot on our streets,” Pritchard said.
Another neighbour, Chad, who would only give his first name, said the shooting occurred in front of his house.
He said the victim was walking toward police with his arms outstretched and a pair of scissors in each hand.
“Stop, stop, stop,” police said to the man, according to Chad, who believes the officers were justified in their actions. “They did their job. They had no choice.”
A police officer also suffered minor injuries in the incident.
The victim is believed to have come from Toronto East General Hospital, although it’s unclear why the man was at the hospital.
Toronto East spokeswoman Angela Pappaianni said the hospital could not answer any questions because of the ongoing investigation.
“We are cooperating with the SIU,” she said.

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