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Our thoughts on the Toronto Van Attack & a Guide to Community Resources for help

The main office of Goldfinger Injury Lawyers is at 167 Sheppard Ave W, at Yonge and Sheppard in Toronto.

This is right outside of where Toronto Van Rampage suspect Alex Minassian was bravely apprehended on Poyntz Ave by Toronto Police Constable Ken Lam. More on PC Ken Lam later.

This is also right outside the site of where Mr. Minassian’s drive ended at Yonge and Sheppard, which began earlier at Yonge and Finch. The crime scene as identified by the Toronto Police extends around 2.2 kilometres. This is a long stretch or densely populated road and sidewalk.

The aftermath was that Minassian left 10 people dead in his tracks, and 14+ seriously injured. His actions shut down  Yonge Street and subway service in the area. Toronto Mayor John Tory asked that businesses close down for the day so the police could properly investigate the area.

Among the names deceased identified this fare are Anne Marie D’Amico (30); 80 year old grandmother Dorothy Sewell; Munir Najjar; and chef Chul Min “Eddie” Kang.

To give you an idea of what that stretch of Yonge Street was like that day, here is a first hand account:

  • It was a beautiful sunny day. One of the first we’ve had in Toronto all year. People were outside walking (without heavy jackets or winter boots! Finally!)
  • There are lots of businesses, restaurants, coffee shops and high rises (business and residential condos) in the area. When the weather is nice, people leave their towers and head outside
  • Often there are food trucks outside of Mel Lastman Square
  • This is Yonge Street. It is not a vacant or empty street. It’s bustling with pedestrians and cars. It’s busy.

We count ourselves as lucky. Normally, people from Goldfinger Injury Lawyers go out to Yonge Street near Sheppard to grab coffee, lunch, or just get some fresh air. That day instead of walking on Yonge Street, Brian Goldfinger did some of his walk along Yonge Street, but then cut over to Doris Avenue, which is a residential street which runs parallel to Yonge Street north of Sheppard. Other members of the Goldfinger Injury Lawyers team had been outside on Yonge Street near Sheppard, but they were out before this terrible incident occurred. Another lawyer was out of town at an Examination for Discovery. Had time and circumstance been different, no doubt this could have happened to anyone here at our law firm.Goldfinger-300x200

Brian Goldfinger first heard about the incident by way of text message from another lawyer. At first, he thought it was a random pedestrian/auto fatality claim which took place near our law firm. But as the day went on, it became clear that what had happened was out of the ordinary.

The take down of the suspect and the great work by PC Ken Lam ought to be commended. This was text book policing. I don’t think that anyone would have criticized PC Lam had he shot the suspect given what had happened or how the stand off went down. The suspect appeared to be pointing a cell phone at PC Lam to make it look like he had a gun.

PC Lam had seconds to identify the situation and react. Had it been a gun, he could have been shot and killed. Instead of freezing, or shooting, PC Lam quickly and calmly turned off the siren and lights in his police cruiser to de-escalate the situation. Then he withdrew his gun and took down Mr. Minassian in what can only be described as a textbook non-violent arrest. It was perfect police work which should be studied worldwide.

PC Ken Lam is a hero. He remained calm under pressure and did the right and humane thing. He did his job when the whole world was watching. There are three+ separate cell phone videos from PC Lam’s take down, which have since been transmitted all over the world via social media, internet broadcasts and on major television news outlets. Had PC Lam shot his gun, the story of PC Lam’s take down would have traveled twice as fast because violent news sells. Police are trained to know that nowadays everyone has a cell phone and everyone records what’s going on. Their actions will be seen. And in this case they were. And all of Toronto is proud that they were because it reflected a proper ideology within the Toronto Police Service. This is not to say that the Toronto Police Service is perfect. But on that day, they rose to the occasion and performed exceptionally.

PC Lam’s non violent arrest needs to be looked at in contrast to all of the incidents of police brutality and police violence we seen both here in Canada, and more notably across the border in the United States. The shoot first, think later mentality; or even officers failing to act in the face of imminent danger (Scot Peterson Parkland School Shooting) doesn’t give the police a good name. But here is PC Lam; doing the exact opposite of what we see all too often on TV (shoot first, think later).

We will cover the personal injury aspect of this terrible case later, when more facts emerge. Previous editions of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post have covered pedestrian/car accidents, along with fatality claims and their values. Unfortunately, the value of fatality claims without a significant income loss claim for the family unit, or significant future care costs are not as large as you might expect them to be. We discussed this in the wake of the Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy weeks ago.

For now, Goldfinger Injury Lawyers wants to leave you with some useful resources if you or a loved one has been impacted by this terrible incident:

Helplines available:

Toronto Distress Centre: 416-408-4357

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

Gerstein Centre: 416-929-5200

Victim Services Toronto: 416-808-7066

The PARO 24 Hour Helpline: 1-866-435-7362

LGBT Youth Line: 1-800-268-9688

Morneau Shepell has launched a national crisis support line that is available to anyone in need of emotional support. The crisis line can be reached at: 1-844-751-2133.

Walk-in Counselling is available free-of-charge for anyone 29 & under in several locations across Toronto if you are looking for in-person counseling now:

A reception for those affected by the Yonge St. incident has been set up at Mitchell Field Community Centre, 89 Church Ave. Residents will have access to emergency social services such as accommodation.

If you reside in the Ottawa area and have been impacted by this incident, you can reach  out to the Ottawa Distress Centre at 613-238-3311 for free counselling.

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