Alleged brutality video is not what it seems, police and officers' union say

Toronto police and the Toronto Police Association say an 11-second cellphone video that shows two officers punching and kicking a man on a balcony does not show excessive use of force, but instead a live-saving arrest.

WARNING: This story contains graphic video that some readers may find disturbing

Video shot by a neighbour captures police officers arresting a young man after they pulled him up from dangling off the eighth-storey balcony. (Tynels Media/YouTube)

Toronto Police and the Toronto Police Association say an 11-second cellphone video that shows two officers punching and kicking a man on a balcony does not show excessive use of force, but instead, a life-saving arrest. 

The video, titled Toronto Police BRUTALITY !!!!!!!!!!!, was shot on March 11 and uploaded by YouTube account Tynels Media. The person who recorded it from a neighbouring balcony wished to remain anonymous.  

Someone close to that person told CBC Toronto that the situation escalated around 5 p.m. after a man was hopping balconies at the building near Lawrence Avenue East and Morningside Avenue in Scarborough. 

Toronto police corroborate that part of the story but have a totally different view of what's in the video. 

Police spokesperson Meaghan Gray explained that police were in that building for an unrelated reason when they spotted the accused.

"They saw a young man who was known to them. They attempted to place that young man under arrest," but he tried to run away, Gray said. 

"At one point he actually makes an attempt to jump over the balcony's ledge," she said.  Police grabbed him while he was dangling eight storeys up. What's captured in the video is what happened after they hoisted him back onto the balcony. 

Police Chief Mark Saunders responded on Twitter Thursday evening saying the video doesn't tell the full story. He added that the force will further explore the incident and publicly present their findings when they are legally able to do so. 

The accused, who is under 18, has been charged with failure to comply with recognizance, failure to comply with probation and mischief. 

The video was picked up and posted on the Instagram account 6sixbuzzTV and has been viewed well over 100,000 times. 

'OMG that's brutal'

It's also garnered dozens of comments. 

"Omg that's brutal," one comment reads.

"This is painful to watch," reads another.

"Disgusting!!!" another commenter wrote on the YouTube video.  

But Gray said Toronto police have determined in an internal review that the force the officers used in the video was the necessary amount to make the arrest. 

"If the officers weren't there we would have been talking about someone who had plunged to their death," said Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association. 

McCormack says the accused was resisting arrest and if anything, the officers "should be given awards."

"People are like, 'Oh, look they're kicking and punching,'" he said. "Well, yes they are. Unfortunately, arrests are ... very physical parts of policing."

About the Author

Ali Chiasson

Reporter, CBC Toronto

From teleprompter to Associate Producer, Ali Chiasson worked many desks at CBC News Network before stepping in front of the cameras at CBC Toronto. Ali covers a wide range of breaking and feature stories and has a special knack for people profiles. Off the clock, Ali is happiest walking through Bloordale with headphones on, picking through local produce markets, sipping bubble tea and snapping pics of street art.