Retired London police chief praises Toronto officer’s handling of van attack suspect takedown

Videos capture police takedown of Toronto van attack suspect Alek Minassian
Various videos purportedly captured the standoff and takedown by a police officer of the suspect in the Toronto van attack.

One of London’s retired top cops is among those commending a Toronto police officer for his calm takedown of the suspect in Monday’s horrific van attack, while the city’s head of security says London is as ready as it can be should something similar happen in Forest City.

“The officer did an excellent job in assessing the threat level to not only the public but to himself,” former London police chief Murray Faulkner told 980 CFPL.

Video footage of those tense moments showed the police officer staring down the suspect at gunpoint in the middle of a street, while the man pointed what appeared to be a gun and shouted: “Kill me.” The video showed the suspect repeatedly pulling an object from his side and aiming at police.

“I think [the officer] quickly made the determination that he was not pointing a gun at him,” said Faulkner.

READ MORE: Toronto van attack: Police officer commended for refusal to shoot suspect

“Even though he says he had a gun in his pocket, the officer could see both hands, which is a key marker in the thought process of a trained police officer. And even though he did the quick draw thing, it really wasn’t into his pocket, it was beside his leg.”

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Faulkner also addressed those who say, given the situation, that the officer wouldn’t be blamed for firing his gun.

“There would have been lots of people that would have blamed that police officer, and we see instances not necessarily in Canada, but in the United States, but some significant ramifications for using lethal force.”

Faulkner says lethal force is a serious matter, and education involving simulators and mental training begins at the Ontario Police College.

“I can remember back into the ’70s that it was trained into us, that if you were going to pull your revolver, you have to be prepared to use it. This isn’t just an instrument used as a threat.”

READ MORE: Alek Minassian suspected driver in Toronto van attack that killed 10, injured 14

He also wonders what may have happened, if the situation had turned into a police chase.

“The last time I checked the laws for police pursuits in Ontario, police are not allowed to fire at a moving vehicle. And I think maybe we need to take a look at legislation, and in cases like this, if the person is getting away, you may need to be able to have that authority.”

London is as ready as it can be, says city’s manager of security

Meanwhile, London’s head of security and emergency preparedness, Dave O’Brien, says “we are ready as we can be” if a similar attack took place in London.

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“There’s never going to be a perfect response to these circumstances, they’re very dynamic and challenging, and it’s always going to be to the best of our ability, training specifically to these types of circumstances,” he explained.

READ MORE: Emergency response training takes over Westminster Ponds

While London has never had to deal with a similar situation, O’Brien says emergency services and the city’s other support organizations are trained regularly on large-scale crises.

First responders and 15 local agencies worked together on an emergency tornado simulation last October at Westminster Ponds, involving more than 400 people and about 90 acting as people who’d been injured.

In honour of the people hurt and killed by Monday’s horrific van attack, the flag outside London city hall is at half mast and councillors observed a moment of silence before starting their council meeting on Tuesday afternoon.