An officer carrying a Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW) was able to disarm a man in a mental health crisis without injuring him.
The man had pulled out a weapon on an officer who had been responding to a 6 a.m. call for another man in a mental health crisis.
“It looked like an edged weapon,” said Constable Tammy Voth, who arrived at the scene with her partner Constable Keith Tauro to the man who had concealed the weapon in his fist. “It looked like an exacto knife with a black handle… I told him to drop the weapon and asked a person close to him to back away.”
Tauro had his back to the altercation as he dealt with another man in crisis who had been yelling about someone ‘out to get him’ to passersby and the responding officers. The man had told officers that he and the armed man had been using drugs but were unsure what they took.
Both called for a sergeant knowing that with the number of people accessing the entrance of a nearby community centre in the area and an agitated, unresponsive man could lead officers to use additional use of force options. Only frontline sergeants and members of the Emergency Task Force are allowed to carry CEWs.
Voth, who was about 10 to 15 feet away from the man, continued to call off the person who was half the distance between them.
"The person had tunnel vision and couldn’t hear me. At the distance he could have lunged and put their life at risk,” Voth said. “If he lunges at someone I will be forced to draw my weapon. At this point the less-lethal weapon is the best option.”
She managed to talk the man into putting the weapon back in his pocket. But when Sergeant Raman Manota arrived, the man again pulled out the weapon.
“I warned him to drop the weapon and warned him he would be tasered,” Manota said. After the repeated warnings he deployed the CEW dropping the man to the ground where Voth was able to handcuff the man. The two men involved were apprehended under the Mental Health Act.
“I’m just glad that no one was hurt and they got the proper help they needed,” said Manota, of the men who were transported to hospital by Toronto Paramedic Services with police officers on board.
He said the officers first on scene managed to buy time for him to arrive.
“The officers were trying to deescalate the situation, and Constable Voth had created some space between the man with the weapon and put a concrete planter between them,” said Manota, noting the officers did not want to have to resort to a use of force that would harm the man.
Staff Sergeant Nancy McLean praised her platoon officers for the professionalism displayed in responding to the tense call.
“The use of the CEW prevented this situation from escalating,” McLean said.