Suspect falls from Toronto balcony

Police, fire and EMS workers surround a man who fell nine metres to the ground following an early-morning standoff on Monday in which a Taser was discharged. The man was rushed to hospital in critical condition. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

A tense standoff involving Toronto police ended with a man apparently being shocked by a Taser before plummeting from a balcony to the concrete below.

The man was rushed to hospital in critical condition just after 5 a.m. Monday after falling an estimated nine metres.

The incident began about 1 a.m., when police from 12 Division were dispatched to arrest a suspect on the fourth floor of 1735 Weston Rd. near Lawrence Avenue. The man descended from the balcony to the third floor as he tried to evade officers.

The Emergency Task Force, which serves as the tactical unit of the Toronto police, was called in to assist. A negotiation team spent four hours trying to persuade him to give himself up for arrest.

Over the course of several hours, he at times straddled the concrete balcony's ledge, stood on top of it or sat down and leaned against it as he smoked a cigarette. As police approached, he would move closer to the balcony's edge.

CBC cameraman Tony Smyth, reporting from the scene, heard the man swearing at police. At one point, the man could be heard calling back, "If you want to get me, you'll have to get me on the run."

Shortly after 5 a.m., an ETF officer on the balcony above aimed a Taser at the suspect below while the man began to smoke another cigarette.

A CBC camera captured images of a red laser sight aimed at the man before the Taser was fired. The sound of the Taser being discharged was audible and the man dropped from the ledge before officers rushing toward him were able to stop him.

The man was rushed to a trauma centre in critical condition.

Some are questioning the actions of police.

"Why'd they use the Taser? I don't understand," said John Sewell from the citizen group Toronto Police Accountability Coalition. "Why didn't they continue to use negotiation and relax and bring him down?"

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has been called in to investigate the case. The independent unit is dispatched for investigations involving the police that lead to a death or serious injury.

Although video footage taken from the scene appears to show that the man was shocked, the SIU has not confirmed whether the man was, in fact, struck by the Taser.

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