Officer who arrested suspect in deadly van attack does not want to be called a hero
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, April 25, 2018 4:23PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 25, 2018 7:27PM EDT
The officer who arrested the suspect in Monday’s deadly van attack without incident, does not want to be called a hero or given any more credit than his fellow first responders, Toronto Police Service (TPS) Deputy Chief Peter Yuen says.
Const. Ken Lam has received widespread acclaim for his actions in safely arresting 25-year-old Alek Minassian, but on Wednesday Yuen said that the 32 Division officer would rather not have “hero status bestowed upon him.”
Yuen said that Lam told him that he “has a name and a badge” and was just doing his job, just as any officer in his position would have.
"Not a single Toronto police officer wakes up in the morning and says ‘I want to be a hero.’ We come in and do our jobs and incidents like this have a way of finding us rather than us finding them. Monday it found Ken Lam," Yuen said. “He does not believe he was the hero. He thought everyone deserved the same credit.”
Lam, 42, arrested Minassian just seven minutes after the first 911 call was received.
Video of the incident shows the suspect standing in front of his vehicle pointing a black object at Lam.
Rather than discharging his weapon, Lam is heard yelling “Come on. Get down.” The suspect then replies “Kill me” and “I have a gun in my pocket” but Lam remains calm and says “I don’t care. Get down or you will be shot.”
The suspect is then seen approaching Lam but the officer again remains calm. The video shows him taking out a baton and slowly walking towards the suspect, who then drops the black object onto the ground.
Police have since confirmed that a phone was seized from Minassian at the time of the arrest; however it is not clear if that was the black object seen in the video.
"It was very remarkable and I would hope that all Toronto police officers would follow a similar sort of behavior when confronted with a situation that could impact someone’s life,” Yuen said of the arrest on Wednesday, calling it textbook. “A lot of times we are asked how do we know our training works? Well our training does work as exhibited by Officer Lam.”
Officer has been placed on leave
Yuen said that Lam has been placed on a temporary leave in the aftermath of the arrest and will only return to work once he is ready to do so.
He said that Lam has reported having some trouble sleeping and called into a roll call at 32 Division at around 6 a.m. on Tuesday because he “was thinking about his peers.”
“He really felt bad he had to take the day off – we forced him to stay home. That is just who he is as a person,” he said.
Yuen said that he has talked with Lam every day since the arrest. He said that Lam was shaken by Monday’s events but has “improved quite a bit” in the days that have followed.
Nonetheless, Yuen said that the seven-year-veteran of the force may still have a long road ahead of him in the wake of such a traumatic incident -- something that Yuen said he understands. He had a near-death experience while on duty, 30 years ago.
“His pattern was exactly the same as mine. I said to him ‘Did you wake up in cold sweats?’ and he said ‘I did.’” “And I said ‘Do you wake up feeling anxiety?’ and he said ‘Yes, I did,’ and I knew that because I did too,” he said. “We have to make sure his mind is clear, we have to help him with any symptoms he is dealing with because we can’t allow an officer to go back on the road and suffer in silence.”
Yuen said that Lam joined the TPS after spending 14 years as an engineer, largely out of a desire to do more for the community.
The deputy chief said that Lam will speak to the media once he is ready to do so, but will be limited in what he can say due to the court case against Minissian, where he will likely be a “key witness.”