Winnipeg police Taser man outside Tim Hortons
The woman who filmed a video showing Winnipeg Police Service officers using a Taser to subdue a man outside a Tim Hortons after they got a call that he might have a gun says she wasn't scared — but she's surprised, and glad, police didn't use their firearms.
Police were called to the area of William Avenue and Isabel Street around 6:30 p.m. They say the man appeared to have the barrel of a shotgun under his jacket.
In the video, filmed by witness Monica Madonick and posted to Facebook, the man can be heard arguing with the officers, who stand with their weapons drawn and aimed at the man.
The officers repeatedly tell the man to show his hands and raise them in the air, warning the man that he "might get shot" if he doesn't comply.
Eventually, one of the officers deploys the Taser as more officers arrive.
After searching the man, police found that what they thought might be a firearm was actually a metal pipe strapped to a long piece of wood.
In the first instance, the man allegedly entered the business in the 100 block of Isabel where he "caused a commotion," police said. He then pulled out the object, which the employee thought was a gun, and pointed it at the employee.
The man then allegedly went to a second business in the same block and threatened to "fire" at the employee, who ran to the back of the business.
The suspect, 42, is charged with causing a disturbance, possessing a weapon, carrying a concealed weapon and failing to comply with probation.
'I wasn't scared at all': witness
Madonick, who filmed the incident on her cellphone, said she had been skating with her nine-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter in the area before deciding to get hot chocolate at Tim Hortons to warm up.
They were there for 20 minutes before they left, and Madonick saw the man — but not the object he had — as she walked out. Then her kids realized they'd forgotten their hockey sticks inside and ran back to get them.
That's when the incident began unfolding in earnest, she said.
I'm surprised that they didn't shoot him, because they seen the weapon, he didn't want to raise his hands in the air and he wasn't complying with the …. Winnipeg police.- Witness Monica Madonick
"I stood there and waited for them, and they came out and as they were coming out the cops were already there and yelling for the man to put his hands in the air," she said.
"My kids froze, because they were right at the door, next to the guy who they were getting to put his hands in the air."
At that point, Madonick said she spotted what looked like the barrel of a gun poking out the bottom of the man's jacket and yelled for her kids to run toward her.
"It was a barrel. That's all I seen was a barrel and it was light blue. I thought, 'I've never seen a light-blue gun before.' But I did see the barrel of it," she said. "At first I thought it was a gun, but then I was saying, 'maybe it's a kid's toy gun.'"
Madonick said she hurried her children down the street and behind a fence but then ran back and pulled out her phone to film.
"I'm always drawn to things like that, like when there's something going on I'll go to it. Rather than run from it, I'll run to it, just to see. I don't know. I don't think, I just go," she said. "I wasn't scared at all. I was more excited — like an adrenaline rush kind of thing."
'Glad they only Tased him'
Madonick said the thing that stood out to her was that the man refused to raise his hands as police instructed.
"He actually was trying to stall them. It's amazing. I'm surprised that they didn't shoot him, because they seen the weapon, he didn't want to raise his hands in the air and he wasn't complying with the …. Winnipeg police," she said.
"I'm glad they only Tased him and not shot him."
Patrol Sgt. Julio Berzenji, the use-of-force co-ordinator for the Winnipeg Police Service, said he's still learning some of the details of what happened, but based on what he's seen so far, he's proud of the officers involved.
"When the video starts, we can see the officers are engaging him and, you know, they're in a bad spot. They don't have any cover. They're out in the open," Berzenji said.
"Yet they're using tactical communication to try to de-escalate the situation and gain voluntary compliance."
The officers took calculated risks based on what they knew at the time, Berzenji said.
"You've got to remember, they're dealing with somebody that they believe is armed with a firearm, a shotgun," he said. "Had this individual been hell-bent on using that firearm, had they produced a real firearm in that instance with those officers out in the open without cover, I'm going to suggest that those officers could have been seriously injured or killed."
In 2016, the latest year for which numbers are available, Winnipeg police officers produced their Tasers 202 times, Berzenji said. In more than half of those cases, the weapons were used for "coercion only" — that is, they were brandished but not fired. Officers fired Tasers 69 times that year.
In this case, the Taser was used once officers determined they couldn't gain compliance from the man and needed to de-escalate the situation, he said.
"I think it comes down to the simple fact that police officers don't want to shoot anybody. We don't," he said.
"There certainly are instances where force is necessary. In some instances, deadly force is necessary. But that is … a last resort for our officers."