Winnipeg City Councillor, Kevin Klein
A video that surfaced online of Winnipeg Police arresting a man that quickly received negativity. When I was asked by a media outlet this morning (June 12, 2020) to comment on the officers' actions, I declined because "I can't judge the incident without seeing more video and so I can consider the full context."
Following my interview, I still wanted more clarity. I needed to understand it better before casting any judgment. I reached out to an expert, former Winnipeg Police Chief Devon Clunis, to learn so I could consider the full context of events.
Mr. Clunis and I spoke after he viewed the full video, which provided more context. Police received multiple calls that a suspect had a gun. Eyewitnesses confirmed seeing the gun and confirmed the suspect refused to comply with the Police. Clunis said the officers acted accordingly. As officers were trying to restrain the suspect, another officer saw a knife in the man's hand. The officer interceded to allow officers to restrain the suspect. The officer then immediately backed up.
The suspect was taken into custody without injury, and no innocent bystanders were harmed.
Online, the negative attacks began, but they are based on a short blurry clip of the incident and not the full context.
I want to thank the officers who put themselves in harm's way. Witnesses told Police the suspect had a gun (later identified as an airsoft replica), a knife, and was suffering from an addiction. That didn't stop these officers because they also knew innocent bystanders were nearby. And these members will put themselves at the same risk tomorrow despite the negativity and silence from City Hall.
This event is an excellent example of why we need leaders who will communicate. We would be better served by leaders who will be direct with residents, provide the facts, and not ignore an incident because of fear of reprisal on their social media platforms.
Political leaders can't continue to ignore their responsibility and pass the blame. Isn't it time for political leaders to accept responsibility, not spin the truth, and get to work on tangible solutions.