(By: Ryan Rocca)
Toronto Police officers threatened to seize a man’s phone while he was legally filming a controversial arrest near Ryerson University Tuesday morning.
Video of the incident was obtained by Toronto media and was posted online later in the day by CityNews.
In the video, which was shot by Waseem Khan, police officers can be seen attempting to arrest a man near the intersection of Dundas and Church streets and then confronting Khan for recording the scene.
One of the arresting officers said, “Get that guy out of my face,” pointing to Khan.
Khan then said, “I’m not obstructing your arrest,” and continued to record from a distance.
He was then approached by two officers who threatened to seize Khan’s phone if he didn’t stop recording.
One of the officers said, “He’s going to spit in your face, you’re going to get AIDS. Stop recording or I’m going to seize your phone as evidence.”
In Canada, every citizen has a right to record the police in a public place as long as they are not interfering with police activities and investigations.
The video, which can be seen below, also shows a police officer tasering a man while he was lying down on his stomach. An officer can also be seen kicking the suspect numerous times while he appears to be motionless on the ground.
Police say they were responding to a call about a person who was reportedly spitting at an employee of a homeless shelter in the area. The Toronto Star reports that when police arrived, the suspect then spat at a female police officer and punched her.
The suspect was then arrested and placed in a police cruiser, at which time he reportedly continued to be unruly and broke a window in the car. This prompted the additional action seen in the video, police said.
The Toronto Police service stands by the force used against the suspect.
Still, the video of the arrest sparked outrage by some witnesses and social media users.
— Ari Goldkind (@AriGoldkind) January 24, 2017
Toronto police deployed their taser even when the man appears still on the ground and then yell “stop resisting”! Shame. https://t.co/B5fhlLOO1v
— Peter’s Dinklage (@ashilomo) January 24, 2017
Tazering and kicking a man who is basically, if not already, unconscious is assault – doesn’t matter if they’re being arrested or not
— brat (@MiranndaRose) January 24, 2017
In an interview with CityNews, however, Toronto Police spokesperson Mark Pugash acknowledged that the officers wrongfully attempted to intimidate Khan for recording.
“The man taking the video was clearly some considerable distance away,” Pugash told the network. “He was not interfering in any way, and the officers have no legal authority to seize the phone and they shouldn’t have said it was a possibility.”
This incident is now under investigation by the Toronto Police Professional Standards division.