A YouTube video, which appears to show a clash between a civilian and an officer, may have been a case of “police baiting,” according to the president of the Toronto Police Association (TPA).
The 45-second video, which was published on Monday, shows the man approaching a police cruiser and demanding his vehicle papers.
The officer sitting in the driver’s seat, A. Keown, tells the man not to lean on his car and as the man continues to question Keown, they appear to get into a struggle.
It appears Keown says, “Do not reach inside a f___ing police vehicle,” as the man calls loudly and repeatedly for help.
Click here for a mobile-friendly link to the video.
“There’s no context to this video,” said TPA president Mike McCormack. “It’s a small snippet of a larger interaction.”
“There may be a potential here of officer baiting … I would say to the public, ‘Let us do our jobs. Do not be putting your hands in a police vehicle or interfering with police while they are doing their jobs.’”
McCormack said police baiting is more prevalent than it’s ever been and the man’s actions could have compromised officer safety.
The man who shot the video, Michael Duru, 19, said he was approached by police around 2 a.m. on Monday, while he was moving his cousin’s rental car from the underground parking garage to the visitors’ lot of his townhouse near Jane and Finch.
Police in 31 Division said there have seen a series of crimes being committed by people who rent vehicles and then commit crimes in those vehicles. Duru said that was never mentioned to him during his interaction with officers.
He claimed police told him he was being investigated under the Highway Traffic Act, even though he wasn’t on a public road.
“That’s so funny because I was never on the highway,” he said. “I was home sitting down watching TV relaxed with my friends.
“If my skin colour was different I think the situation would’ve been handled differently.”
After he reached into the cruiser to get a shot of Keown’s name tag, the officer got out of the car and a scuffle ensued. Duru claimed he was grabbed and punched in the face.
“Now I really know how Mike Brown and all those other little teenagers feel,” Duru said.
“He had me on the floor bruising me, you know? For what? You know what I’m trying to say? For what? It makes no sense.”
“I understand if I was a criminal or if I had a record maybe but I’m no criminal record whatsoever I just want to play basketball and this is what you’re doing to me?”
Human rights lawyer Selwyn Pieters was one of the first people to share the video on social media and believes Duru was only approached because he is black.
“If it was a white kid that was treated that way, all hell would’ve broken loose. Their parents wouldnt have tolerated it and the community wouldnt have tolerated it, so our kids are no different and they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.”
Police said Duru has been charged with obstruct police and assault to resist arrest.
Pieters says he is willing to have a conversation with Duru about providing legal assistance to him.
“The video raises more questions than answers,” said deputy police chief Peter Sloly, adding that the professional standards unit had been assigned to conduct a full investigation.
“In general, I think we’d all do better if there was a more respectful and collegial tone between members of the community and members of the police service who serve the community.
“We have that for the most part, but I think it’s a scenario that we constantly have to work on.”
Duru is due in court on March 24.