Arresting officer in Toronto van attack doesn’t want to be called a hero

By Dilshad Burman and Diana Pereira

“He wants the public not to call him a hero. He’s Officer Ken Lam. He’s real. He’s got a name, he’s got a badge. He’s not a hero.”

Toronto’s deputy police chief Peter Yuen spoke to media on behalf of and about Constable Ken Lam in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon after police was inundated by requests to speak to the “hero cop” — the police officer who apprehended and arrested the suspect in Monday’s deadly van attack in Toronto without firing a single shot.

Yuen said he shares a close relationship with Lam and shared some of the constable’s thoughts and what he wants the public and media to know — the salient point being that he does not consider himself a hero, nor does he want the public to see him that way. He was not assigned to the call that day but rather simply “bumped into the suspect.” He feels there were many first responders and other personnel on site who all deserve support and recognition.

Lam is unable to speak to media himself because he is a key witness in a multiple homicide case, Yuen said. He could be required to testify in court and anything he says could be used as evidence in open court.

Here are some snippets of what Yuen said:

Who is Const. Ken Lam?

  • Lam is 42 years old and married.
  • His parents immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong around 40 years ago to give their children a better life.
  • He had an interest in volunteering and helping people from a young age and wanted to work with seniors.
  • He joined Toronto police to give back to his community.
  • He began his police career in traffic services seven years ago, before which he was an engineer for 14 years. He moved to 32 division because he wanted a position where he could interact more with people.
  • Lam is a member of the TPS East Asian internal support network and is known as “the guy who sells stuff” because of his tireless work to raise money for various charities and causes.


How is he doing?

  • Lam is in an after-care program, a mandatory part of the Toronto Police Service (TPS) protocol for officers who endure traumatic experiences. Yuen said the TPS’ support program is one of the best in the country.
  • Lam was in good spirits on Wednesday morning when Yuen spoke to him, but the previous day was a difficult one. Yuen explained he had been through a similar traumatic experience 30 years ago, and knows that there are good days and bad days and it will take a while for Lam to recover.
  • Lam said he wasn’t able to sleep after the arrest. Yuen says that Lam expressed feeling anxiety, sleeplessness and sometimes woke up in cold sweats.
  • Among the things Const. Lam is currently grappling with is whether he made the right decision and what might have happened if he had opened fire.
  • Lam feels a sense of relief and is very appreciative for the public’s acknowledgement and support. He feels he made the right decision when he chose to give up his career as an engineer and join the force.


How did he handle the arrest?

  • Lam was not assigned to the call on Monday. He responded to it and “the incident found Ken Lam” said Yuen. He “bumped into the suspect” and made the arrest.
  • Yuen said Lam followed his training to the letter and he is an example of the TPS’ training translating into action.
  • Officers go through three days of rigorous front line training every year. Yuen said it is a continuous curriculum that is updated and reinforced on an ongoing basis. He added that Lam’s case could very well be used for training purposes next year.
  • Yuen said Lam’s calm and decisive behaviour was “remarkable” and he went “above and beyond.”


Watch the entire press conference below:

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