1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

Video shows suspect Tasered, kicked by Toronto police during arrest

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jan 25th, 2017

 

The Toronto Police Service is defending the actions of officers who Tasered and stomped on a prone man, but admits police had no right to threaten to seize the cellphone of a civilian witness who recorded the arrest.

The incident began when police received a call about a man spitting at an employee at the Seaton House homeless shelter on George Street in downtown Toronto.

An officer responded to the call and approached the suspect. That’s when witnesses say the man began punching her in the face.

With the help of passersby, police managed to tackle the man near Dundas and Church streets.

Bystander Karsa Dehghani told CityNews he helped police detain the man after he attacked the officer.

“His behaviour was aggressive,” he explained. “He immediately assumed a fighting stance and he started throwing punches … He hit (the officer) a couple of times.”

“It seemed pretty bad so I jumped in and tackled him … I was grabbing both his arms for about a minute or so until the police backup arrived.”

When that backup arrived, the suspect was placed in the back of a cruiser. But the situation would only escalate.

According to police spokesman Mark Pugash, the man kicked out the window of the cruiser and then bit an officer.

Pugash believes the subsequent force used by officers, who Tasered the man twice and stomped on his legs several times, was justified.

“We put him in the back of a police car, he kicked out the window of the police car,” Pugash said. “We got him out of the police car, he was on the ground, he still had an officer’s hand in his mouth, and so we Tasered him a second time to deal with that situation.

“He wouldn’t disengage and that’s why they Tasered him a second time.”

“He wouldn’t disengage and that’s why they Tasered him a second time.”

Pugash did admit, however, that police appeared to be intimidating witness Waseem Khan, who captured part of the dramatic arrest on his cellphone.

Khan says he was shocked to see police using such aggression when the suspect seemed to be immobile.

“The police officer starts stomping on him,” he said. “I’m thinking … that this guy is going to die. He was laid out. He was not moving whatsoever. I don’t even know if this guy was conscious.”

But it’s what happened next in the video that Pugash says crossed the line.

The officer holding the Taser hollers at Khan to “move back” and instructs another officer to “Get that guy out of my face.”

“I am not obstructing your arrest,” Khan replies.

Another officer approaches Khan and tells him to move back, to which Khan replies, “I’m a witness. I’m a witness.”

Two of the officers then say if he is a witness, they will have to seize his phone as evidence.

officer1

 

officer2

 

“He’s going to spit in your face, you’re going to get AIDS. Stop recording or I’m going to seize your phone as evidence,” one of the officers says.

Pugash said Khan was within his rights to film the takedown from a reasonable distance.

“The man taking the video was clearly some considerable distance away,” Pugash said. “He was not interfering in any way, and the officers have no legal authority to seize the phone and they shouldn’t have said that was a possibility. It isn’t a possibility.”

The situation is under investigation by the Toronto Police Professional Standards division, but the Special Investigations Unit will not be probing the arrest because no serious injuries were reported.

Coun. Shelley Carroll, who sits on the Toronto Police Services Board, said she was dismayed by the video.

“I have a lot of questions and I’m going to need answers,” she said. “It’s a troubling video … but I do want to assure people that this means these officers are going to go through a long, long process.”

Mayor John Tory’s office released the following statement in response to the incident:

“The mayor has seen the video and finds it disconcerting. It’s important to keep in mind that we do not know the full context of what happened before or after the video footage. The mayor believes it is appropriate that the Toronto police will be reviewing the matter internally.”

Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder Sandy Hudson said the video was further evidence of the need for change within Toronto police.

“This is outrageous,” she said upon viewing the video. “This man is not moving. He’s being kicked. This is exactly the type of stuff that we’ve been talking about. This city needs to do something about it. The province needs to do something about it.

“We need systemic change. We need policy change and we need a complete culture shift.”

Comments

  • No comments have been left yet, get the conversation started!

Leave a Comment Below

Sign in to comment.

All fields are required.

Want to embed media into your comment? Just paste in a URL in a separate paragraph to the page where you would normally view the media (like on YouTube) and it will automatically be embedded into your comment.