After another video of a physical arrest was shared on social media, some are questioning the actions of Toronto police.
The woman who shot the video said it was captured at around 2:00 a.m. Sunday on Pearl Street in the Entertainment District. It does not show a violent interaction between police and a young man they’ve arrested, allegedly for stealing a bag of potatoes from a nearby Smoke’s Poutinerie location. Harpreet Ahuja, the woman who filmed the video on her phone, said that interaction came before she came upon the scene and hit record.
“What I saw was three officers … tackle this young man, who is so tiny, to the ground and hearing people say, ‘He kicked him, he kicked him in the face.'”
As grainy as the image is, the man does not appear injured in the video. Ahuja admitted she didn’t witness the alleged kick herself.
What she said upset her and her friend Jessica Hawkins comes right at the start of the video when Hawkins questioned one of the officers involved in the arrest.
“You know that’s unnecessary force,” said Hawkins, to which the officer can be heard replying bluntly, “I will beat the f— out of anybody that tries to beat the f— out of me.”
Hawkins replied by asking, “So five against one is fair?”
“I’ll make it 20 against 1,” the officer could be heard saying.
“I think it’s really problematic when a public official is speaking to the public in that way,” Hawkins told Global News.
“We really need to talk about how to have these conversations in a healthy manner.”
Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash told Global News in a statement the incident “is being investigated by our professional standards unit. It would be inappropriate for me to comment while that is going on.”
The President of the Toronto Police Association is not so hesitant to comment, though.
“We’re not defending the comments,” Mike McCormack said.
“But let’s look at the context in which these comments were made, the stresses, what was going on with that officer, and we’ll deal with the appropriate reaction to his comments.”
McCormack said officers are under enough stress being constantly accused for their actions in videos that don’t capture the entire incident start to finish, let alone in the immediate aftermath of a physical altercation.
The officer in question remains on duty while the situation is being investigated. Hawkins and Ahuja have not lodged a formal complaint, but Ahuja said she’s not letting the incident go either.
“I’ve filed a freedom of information application,” she said.
“I’m just curious to know about this particular officer. What his background is, if there has been any disciplinary action in the past against him, and I will go from there.”