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What we know so far: Here’s the latest information on the Toronto van attack

They’re calling him The Cop Who Didn’t Shoot.

The man of the hour in Monday’s Yonge Street attack, since identified as Const. Ken Lam, is the level-headed officer who refused to be provoked into using deadly force. Instead of gunning down a suspect after a van tore down Yonge, felling pedestrians one by one, he held his fire.

Video from the scene showed this lesson in restraint to viewers around the world. The white van with a crumpled front end has come to a halt. A tall, thin man stands outside, holding something in his raised hand as if he is pointing a gun. No one would have blamed the cop for dropping him where he stood, considering the horror of what had just happened and the potential threat that remained. In many places, the man would surely have met with a storm of gunfire.

Bystanders captured the moment one police officer arrested a suspect after a white van ran over dozens of pedestrians on Yonge Street between Finch Avenue East and Sheppard Avenue East in Toronto.

The Globe and Mail

That is not what happened here in Toronto. The officer reaches into his cruiser to turn off the wailing siren. Now we can hear what is being said. The man with something in his hand raises his arm a couple of times in a rapid motion that suggests he is drawing a gun to shoot. Perhaps he is hoping to make the officer fire, concluding his attack with what is called suicide by police.

He tells the officer: Shoot me. Kill me. I have a gun in my pocket. The officer says: I don’t care. He shouts at the man to get down. He says it over and over. He refuses to shoot.

The two circle each other in a wary dance. The officer makes a critical decision: he will not use his gun. He draws his baton instead and closes in. The man makes a decision of his own: he submits, dropping whatever is in his hand, turning and lying face down on the pavement. The officer pulls his handcuffs from his belt and cuffs the man’s hands behind his back. The attack on Yonge Street is over, the threat ended without another needless death.

Because of Const. Lam’s steady professionalism, the police can now question the suspect about motive and perhaps determine whether this was an act of political terrorism. Police Monday night identified the suspect in the van attack as Alek Minassian, 25, of Richmond Hill, Ont.

The officer’s actions are an example to police around North America on how to defuse a threat from a disturbed person without taking a life.

It comes at a moment when that lesson is sorely needed. In the United States, deadly force became a point of bitter conflict after a series of police shootings of black men. In Canada, two incidents brought the issue to the fore. In Vancouver in 2007, police tasered Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, who did not speak English and had become agitated after spending hours wandering in the arrivals area of Vancouver International Airport. He died. In Toronto in 2013, a policeman shot dead 18-year-old Sammy Yatim, who was brandishing a knife on an empty streetcar. In both cases, inquiries said there should be better training for police and security officers in de-escalation, the art of talking suspects down without resort to life-threatening force.

If Monday’s episode is any guide, that training may be paying off. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders say that the successful takedown was “directly related to the high-calibre training that takes place. The officers here are taught to use as little force as possible in any given situation.”

Whether it was training, instinct or simple humanity, The Cop Who Didn’t Shoot deserves all the praise and attention he is getting. He kept his cool. He arrested his man. He spared a life. He showed us all the best way to respond to terror: with calm, discipline and determination.