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Toronto police officer hailed as hero for arresting suspect without firing shot

Unidentified officer arrested 25-year Alek Minassian after white van ploughed into pedestrians, killing 10 and leaving dozens injured

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Toronto police officer hailed as hero for arresting suspect without firing shot” was written by Ashifa Kassam in Toronto, for The Guardian on Tuesday 24th April 2018 19.37 UTC

A Canadian police officer is being hailed for the restraint and professionalism he showed in arresting the suspect in the Toronto van attack without firing a single shot.

On Monday afternoon, a white van ploughed into pedestrians along one of Toronto’s busiest streets, killing 10 people and injuring more than a dozen others in what one official described as “pure carnage”.

Soon after, the alleged driver of the van was arrested by a lone police officer in a confrontation lasting less than a minute and caught on video by bystanders.

“Get down,” the officer, identified by sources as Ken Lam, shouts repeatedly.

“Kill me,” the man responds. “I have a gun in my pocket.”

Lam’s voice remains calm as he again orders the man to get down, warning that he will shoot if the man does not cooperate. “Shoot me in the head,” the suspect replies.

The officer then begins advancing towards the suspect. The suspect steps backwards, dropping what he was holding and raising his hands in the air. Lam proceeds to single-handedly arrest the suspect.

The arrest came as police forces across North America – including in Toronto – have been criticised for using excessive force to subdue mentally ill or unarmed suspects.

Police identified Alek Minassian, a 25-year-old from the nearby town of Richmond Hill, as the man who had been arrested. He appeared in court on Tuesday, charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.

Officials refused to comment on a motive, but said the suspect did not represent a threat to national security.

Video of the dramatic confrontation between the suspect and the police officer was hailed on social media, where praise poured in for Lam.

Many said he deserved a medal. A columnist for Maclean’s magazine contrasted Lam’s calm demeanor with the chaos and horror that had unfolded minutes earlier. “I am paid to explain things and sound confident doing so,” he wrote. “But I honestly don’t know what to make of this terrifying, remarkable moment.”

Mark Saunders, the city’s police chief, credited the force’s high calibre of training. “The officer did a fantastic job with respect to utilising his ability of understanding the circumstance and environment and having a peaceful resolution at the end of the day,” he said.

Mike McCormack, the president of the Toronto Police Association, said Lam – a constable who has been with the force for more than seven years – would have been justified if he had decided to fire at the suspect. “He was constantly assessing, constantly watching what was going on and determined he could handle it the way that he did,” he said. “People are right: this guy is a hero.”

He had spoken to Lam, who was left shaken. “It’s stressful enough when you’re confronting somebody who is trying to get you to kill them,” said McCormack. “And then you add the layer that this person that you’re dealing with has just murdered 10 innocent people, injured another 15. It really is sinking in with him right now.”

As commendations poured in from the around the world, Lam’s focus was on the many residents affected by the attack. “He was more concerned about the victims. He was devastated when we kept hearing the casualties going up, as we all were. It was a horrific scene,” said McCormack. “He said ‘Mike, I followed my experience and my training. Okay I made this arrest, which is great, but I’m just doing my job.’”

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Crime

London police shocked by rare fatal shooting of officer

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A police officer in London died after being shot in the early hours of Friday by a man who was being detained in a rare fatal shooting of a UK police officer.

The incident occurred in the early hours of Friday at Croydon Custody Centre in south London, the city’s Metropolitan Police Service said.

Fellow officers and paramedics treated the officer at the scene, according to a police statement. However, he later died of his injuries at the hospital.

Later on Friday, the police service identified the slain officer as 54-year-old Sgt. Matt Ratana.

“This is a truly shocking incident in which one of our colleagues has lost his life in the most tragic circumstances. My heart goes out to his family, direct colleagues and friends,” said Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick.

A 23-year-old man was detained at the scene, police said. He is in hospital in a critical condition from a gunshot wound. The Metropolitan Police Service has launched a homicide investigation.

The fatal shooting of a police officer is an unusual event in the United Kingdom, where police do not routinely carry guns.

No police firearms were discharged during the incident, the police statement said.

Dick said Ratana was originally from Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, and moved to London in 1989. He joined the Metropolitan Police in 1991 and was captain of his recruit training class.

According to the UK Police Roll of Honour Trust website, no officer lost his or her life in a shooting incident last year. The last Metropolitan Police officer to lose his life in a violent attack was Keith Palmer, who was fatally stabbed in a terror attack in the British capital in 2017.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country owed a “huge debt” to police officers who risk their lives to keep the community safe.

“My deepest condolences go to the family, friends and colleagues of the police officer who was killed in Croydon last night,” he said on Twitter. “We owe a huge debt to those who risk their own lives to keep us safe.”

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was “shocked and saddened” by the news. “My thoughts today are with his family, friends, and policing colleagues in London and across the country,” she said in a statement.

Patel said she had offered her condolences to Dick and offered whatever support was needed as the shooting was investigated.

“This is a sad day for our country and another terrible reminder of how our police officers put themselves in danger each and every day to keep the rest of us safe,” she said.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “devastated” by the shooting.

“My heart goes out to the family of this brave officer, who has paid the ultimate price for helping to keep Londoners safe. Tragic incidents like this are terrible reminders of the dangers our police officers face every single day,” Khan said on Twitter.

“My thoughts are also with the entire Metropolitan Police family, who I know will be deeply mourning their colleague at this extremely difficult time. I remain in close contact with the Commissioner to offer her and our Met officers and staff my support.”

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Crime

ATLANTA POLICE OFFICER SHOOTS A MAN DEAD AT A FAST-FOOD DRIVE-THRU

An Atlanta police officer shot and killed a man at a Wendy’s drive-thru Friday night.

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 (CNN) — An Atlanta police officer shot and killed a man at a Wendy’s drive-thru Friday night after he resisted arrest and struggled for an officer’s Taser, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.

The GBI identified the slain man as Rayshard Brooks, 27, of Atlanta.

The killing comes amid global protests and discussion of police use of force following the death of George Floyd last month in custody in Minneapolis. Atlanta has seen frequent protests, including some that turned violent.

Six Atlanta Police Department officers were facing charges of using excessive force during one, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced June 2. Two of the officers were fired by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Friday, officers responded to a call at 10:33 p.m. about a man sleeping in a parked vehicle in the drive-thru, causing other customers to drive around it, the GBI said in a statement.

Police gave Brooks a field sobriety test, which he failed, the GBI said. He resisted arrest and struggled with officers, the GBI said.

An officer drew his Taser and, witnesses said, the man grabbed it, the statement said. An officer then shot him.

Brooks was taken to a hospital, where he died, the statement said.

One officer was treated for an injury and released, the GBI said.

The GBI is investigating at the request of the APD, the statement said. Once completed, the case will be turned over to prosecutors for review.

CNN has reached out to the APD, GBI and the mayor’s office but they have not responded.

CNN affiliate WSB reports this is the 48th police shooting the GBI has investigated in 2020

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Crime

Bo Dukes Sentenced To 25 Years In Prison For Covering Up Death of Tara Grinstead

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ABBEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A man convicted of helping hide the death of a missing Georgia teacher has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

News outlets reported that 34-year-old Bo Dukes was sentenced Friday morning in court in Abbeville.

Dukes was convicted Thursday night of lying to investigators about the 2005 death of Tara Grinstead. The high school history teacher’s body was burned to ash and bone fragments in a pecan orchard.

What happened to the woman wasn’t revealed until Dukes and another man were arrested in 2017.

Dukes was convicted of two counts of making a false statement, hindering the arrest of a criminal and concealing a death.

His co-defendant, Ryan Alexander Duke, is charged with murder in Grinstead’s death and is scheduled for trial April 1 in Irwin County.

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