The timely intervention of a Police Dog Services (PDS) officer with a Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW) helped subdue a knife-wielding man in the city’s west end on August 14.
When officers arrived at the call for a man in a mental health crisis in the Keele St. and Wilson Ave. area, they found a man walking on the residential street armed with two knives.
Constable Kristen Yarlett, who was close by, was among the first officers on the scene.
“When I got there, I could see the man coming towards me with the knives. There was no way I could back up because there was construction going on nearby,” she said. “So I exited my vehicle and told him about seven-to-eight times to drop the knives.”
The man refused and instead advanced towards the officer who tried to communicate with the man.
“I was standing behind the car with my weapon drawn and he was close to the front door of the car,” she said. “That was how close we were.”
Sergeant Bryan Maharaj arrived shortly afterward and deployed his CEW in an effort to disarm the man.
“That didn’t have an effect on the man,” said Yarlett. “He just ripped out the prongs and started to head in the direction of the sergeant.”
The CEW did not affect the man because both prongs did not made a connection.
As Maharaj was backing up, he fell over construction debris and broke his ankle.
“The man was charging in the direction of the fallen sergeant and I continued to tell him to drop the knives,” said Yarlett. “Once we got him away from the sergeant, medical personnel were able to come in and take the sergeant away to hospital.”
Yarlett, Constable Victoria Brewer and other officers were able to contain the man until Sergeant Eric Hembruff arrived with another CEW.
“The man was cornered between two buildings and the PDS officer deployed his CEW and brought him to the ground,” said Yarlett.
The man was apprehended under the Mental Health Act.
Inspector Colin Greenaway said the officers worked well as a team facing a potentially fatal threat.
“I am very proud of how our officers conducted themselves yesterday. All of the attending officers used tactical communication, de-escalating techniques, accompanied with distance and time, to await a second officer who had a CEW,” Greenaway said. “If not for the second attending sergeant, the other officers may have been faced with having to use deadly force.”
Greenaway said officers have received new training to help de-escalate scenarios where a person is in a mental health crisis but the officers went above and beyond to ensure everyone was safe.