By Sandy Mui
Published: April 25th, 2018
On commercial breaks during the NBA Playoffs, my father usually changes the channel to CNN. When we flipped the channel in the middle of Monday’s game between the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves, we found ourselves watching the footage of law enforcement’s response to a van crashing into innocent straphangers on a busy Toronto street.
By then, the death toll had risen to 10, which was being reported…probably everywhere. That was the first thing that caught my attention, since the count was still at seven deaths when I was catching up on the news on my commute home.
My father and I immediately noticed something else about Toronto police officers’ encounter with Alek Minassian, the suspect in the Toronto van rampage. It was the fact that the police were able to arrest Minassian without any shots being fired. Considering my father and I are Americans, that is a reasonable thing for us to notice—after all, you rarely see the arrest of a criminal not be resolved through further conflict. Even more notable, as I would later learn, was the Toronto police officer who shouted back, “I don’t care. Get down,” in response to Minassian’s claim that he had a gun in his pocket.
The way my father and I reacted upon seeing the footage, only shine further light on a major problem America has when confronting potential criminals—sometimes people who turn out to be completely innocent.
“You won’t see that happening in the United States,” I said.
“Definitely not—that guy would be dead,” my dad replied.
The list goes on and on for victims of police gunfire in the United States. According to a database from the Washington Post that was last updated on April 5, 2018, there have been 344 people who have been shot and killed by American police in 2018 alone. Some of these names should be recognizable because of the extensive media coverage—Stephon Clark, Saheed Vassell, and Diante Yarber, just to name a few. What is extremely ironic here is that these listed individuals were not found with firearms in their possession, contrary to what the responding police officers had suspected.
How is it that Canada gets it right then, when confronting actual felons? It probably does not help the United States’ case since American police clearly have a problem of killing unarmed, innocent civilians, but they were able to detain Parkland high school shooter Nikolas Cruz and Waffle House shooter Travis Reinking without any gunfire.
Well, it actually isn’t all too surprising that Canadian law enforcement is that good at not shooting people. A study done by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation found that between 2000 and 2017, 461 people were killed when being confronted by police. 70 percent of those deaths were caused by police gunfire, averaging to about 19 police shooting victims per year. Meanwhile, an investigation by the Washington Post uncovered that nearly 1,000 Americans were killed by police in 2017. And, need I remind you, 2018 is still far from over… but at least 344 people’s lives were cut short because of police gunfire in the United States.
Canada is already dominating the United States in a lot of categories—kindness, cleanliness, and not having a highly questionable individual in power. Add police exchanges with civilians to the mix.