By Lyonel Doherty
If you were that cop, would you have shot Alek Minassian after he purposefully ran over those pedestrians in Toronto?
It’s very easy to say yes, with the mindset that Minassian deserved to die for killing 10 people and wounding 15 others.
But that police officer showed amazing restraint by not pulling the trigger, even after Minassian appeared to be pointing a weapon. (Some reports indicated it was a handgun, while others said it was a cellphone.) The cop was labeled a hero by many people, but one Chronicle letter writer begged to differ, saying the killer was pure evil and deserved to be turned into Swiss cheese in a hail of bullets.
The reader said because of this good cop we will now spend millions of dollars on Minassian trying to figure out why he went postal.
The letter garnered some very interesting feedback on our Facebook page.
Cole Wilson wrote: I think it’s a lot more complex than what this reader’s opinion is. Humans are not born evil, for one. Studying serial killers and other criminals of this nature give the authorities vital information that may help solve past crimes and prevent more from happening in the future.
For instance, this is the first time the “incel” movement has come into the spotlight. Hopefully, we will find out more about this social problem by keeping this guy alive and keep our country a little safer. Does your reader think we should line up everyone that has committed a murder and execute them?
According to Gayle Cornish, the letter writer’s view is an oversimplification of the case.
“Had the officer killed the man he would have undergone a lot of questioning about his every move and motive. Then there’s the whole guilt of shooting a human and PTSD that may have followed. The van killer wanted the easy way out. Didn’t happen, tough luck!”
Rachel Gonzaga wrote: “While I don’t necessarily agree with the writer’s opinion, I am concerned that what the media (in general) has portrayed will lead the public to believe that his decision not to shoot will set a precedent across the board. Not all situations can be solved peacefully. Imagine standing in that officer’s place knowing that the suspect had intentionally premeditated and murdered a number of people only to have him yell “kill me” while taking up a stance in a shooting position, drawing over and over, pointing a black object. Would anyone have criticized the officer for opening fire? Even at that distance and under stress, it would be hard to identify what exactly the guy was holding. He obviously wanted it to look like a firearm. If the same scenario took place and a real firearm was presented, the officer would have lost his life. So while I don’t agree with the hero label, I’m thankful the officer is still alive and I do believe he is extremely lucky.”
While Brenden Dias believes Minassian deserved a bullet, he cautions that Canada should not become like the United States where many people are unjustly killed by overzealous cops every year.
What do you think? Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.