The Toronto Police Service has really started the year off with a bang. Several to be exact.
On January 6th in the Crossroads Power Plaza at Weston Rd. & Hwy 401 police responded to a call about a man with a knife just after Noon. A dozen police cars surrounded him, officers armed with both handguns and shotguns shouting demands and pointing their weapons. Civilian responses vary some saying that he would occasionally produce a knife from his jacket and wave it around, clearly mentally off, others who don’t remember seeing any weapon, “his hands were at his sides.” However the man, who witnesses also all agree looked homeless, was confirmed to have not harmed or attacked anyone. And yet, after apparently refusing to drop his weapon, he was shot at least three times. The victim managed to recover from life threatening injuries in hospital, has not had his identity published as of yet, and the SIU is investigating. However owners and customers in the plaza at the time of the violence note they were told by police to leave immediately afterwards, instead of waiting to be questioned as witnesses, or asked to fill out reports by the SIU.
Then on February 3rd at 10:15 am, as the inquest into the police beating-death of Junior Manon was taking place at the coroner’s court at Yonge and Grovsner, Toronto Police officers summarily executed another young black man in chilling circumstances. Clad only in a hospital gown and socks Michael Eligon, 29 year-old father of one, was shot several times on Milverton Blvd. near Coxwell and Danforth only a few minutes after he had fled Toronto East General, (where he was being held over four days for observation, for an undisclosed mental condition). His foster-sister was on her way to pick him up, having spoken to Michael on the phone just two hours prior, when she ran into a web of police tape and the tragic news of Eligon’s death. He left the hospital around 10AM holding a pair of scissors, and soon stumbled into a Convenience Store with a blank expression. The clerk who tried to shoo him away was nicked by the scissors and proceeded to call police. A renovator called cops again when Eligon made his way into a backyard, but is now ashamed and disgusted of his role in what he saw happen next. “More than anything he was afraid…he looked scared…he seemed like he wanted to hide.” Soon, according to the renovator, Eligon was surrounded by dozens of cops on foot and in vehicles, cutting off the intersection and drawing their weapons. Rather than calm the victim down the witness recalls officers shouting and rushing Michael, causing him to panic further. And when he didn’t drop his scissors, and either made a move to flee or was pushed from behind, an officer shot him three times in the chest and shoulder. Several other officers proceeded to stomp, kick and pin his dying body to the ground.
“You guys just took a life, and now I feel crap because I was the one who called you over to help me so we can kind of sedate him somehow. That wasn’t the kind of sedate that I expected… They were kicking him, stomping him. There was no need for that.”
And then February 20th, less than three weeks later near Dupont and Lansdowne, 48-year old Frank Anthony Berry met his end at the end of a cop’s barrel. He was supposedly masked, trying to break into a car and holding a knife- but also attempting to flee officers into neighbouring backyards when he was shot (initial reports confirm multiple gunshots, TPS won’t say how many).
As municipal workers face a butchering of their jobs and benefits….as another round of cuts is forced down our throats by the province…we get another view of what austerity will mean for the poorest people in this city: The state’s security force, bolstered by higher salaries, increased funding, and a draconian Crime Bill- That’s decided to go on a killing spree.