One described it as a “portrait in bravery.” The officer himself said he was just doing his job. But the exchange Tuesday between a Canadian police officer and the man accused of killing 10 people and injuring many more when he allegedly used a rented van as a weapon of mass slaughter on Yonge Street in downtown Toronto may end up in a police training course one day. If not, many think it should.
The officer was identified as Const. Ken Lam, with the force’s 32 Division.
Lam approached suspect Alek Minassian who screamed out, “Kill me!”
Lam yelled back, “No, get down!”
Suspect Minassian shouted, “I have a gun in my pocket.”
Lam, of the police’s 32 Division, responded, “I don’t care. Get down.”
The way in which Lam handled the arrest of Minassian is being heralded as both a heroic act and an illustration of police restraint.
“As of yesterday, police in the US have killed 394 people. Watching the restraint of the Toronto police officer as he was being taunted by the suspect is nothing short of remarkable. High praise to the officer,” Tweeted Carla Harper, a post that engaged hundreds, albeit many critical of her take.
The French language Radio-Canada reported (and translated via Google) Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders describe Lam’s work handling the situation as “fantastic.”
Lam, he said, used “his ability to understand the circumstances, the environment, and reaching a peaceful resolution at the end of the runway.”
Toronto Police Union president Mike McCormack, Radio-Canada reported, said Lam, 30, with 7 years on the job, would have been justified if he’d shot at the suspect but instead “looked at what was happening and concluded that he could handle it as he did. People are right: he’s a hero.”
It was reported McCormack said Lam was disturbed by the massacre of innocent people but the arrest felt like standard operating procedure: “He said, ‘Mike, I just did my job, what I did was not much, but look at those poor people.'”
Meanwhile, reaction to the arrest and Lam’s handling of it was swift and full of applause and gratitude.
Posted as a ‘Twitter Moment,” the caption reads in part, that Lam’s actions were a “one shining moment,” in a scene of horror and carnage.
Tweet after tweet, Facebook post after Facebook post beginning just moments after the arrest, people have been singing Lam’s praises for his bravery and for his calm demeanor.
A popular Canadian radio host and journalist commented on Lam’s courage.
Many congratulating and thanking Lam used a common spelling of his surname based on the sound, but the last name Lam is often an Asian surname.
Lam is not going to provide an interview, Radio-Canada reported adding that Guy Ryan, former inspector of the Montreal Police Service, commended Lam and his “coolness,” saying his act was a singular one.
“If we put 10 police officers in the same place where this police officer was, how many would use the firearm? Probably the average would be high,” Radio-Canada reported with Ryan adding it was a skilled intervention of a well-trained law enforcement officer.
Many agreed that Lam’s actions are a lesson in good policing.