Trial of man accused in London attack sees police station footage

Jurors at the trial of a man accused of murdering four members of a Muslim family in Ontario watched footage Thursday of him being held at a police station after his arrest.

Nathaniel Veltman is seen pacing around and occasionally sitting in a detention cell, before being taken to a different cell where he is seen walking around and eventually lying down in the hours after the attack.

Veltman is accused of deliberately hitting five members of the Afzaal family with his truck while they were out for a walk in London, Ont.

Prosecutors have alleged his actions on June 6, 2021, amount to an act of terrorism and have argued he was motivated by white nationalist beliefs.

The 22-year-old has pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

On Thursday, jurors watched video of Veltman pacing around in a small detention cell at London police headquarters and sometimes briefly sitting on a concrete bench inside the cell. The video shows him walking around with his hands crossed or in his pants' pockets.

Veltman is seen in the footage wearing a white T-shirt with what appears to be a hand-painted cross on both the front and the back, along with dark-coloured pants.

Jurors later watched footage of Veltman in another detention cell, where he spent the night after the attack, pacing around and occasionally lying down on a concrete bed. They also saw footage of Veltman's fingerprints being taken and him being photographed by police officers.

Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal, were killed in the London attack. The couple's nine-year-old son was also seriously hurt but survived.

An agreed statement of facts presented to the jury has said Veltman was driving his truck north on Hyde Park Road in London when he saw the Afzaal family and made a U-turn to drive south towards them. Two women in the Afzaal family were wearing traditional Pakistani clothes at the time of the attack, court has heard.

Veltman accelerated as he approached the family, and data from his truck show he steered to the right, aiming to hit the family, just five seconds before striking them, the statement said.

"From five seconds before the impact through until point of impact, the brake pedal was never depressed," it said. "Veltman struck the victims with his truck and at least one family member was thrown high in the air."

Crown lawyer Sarah Shaikh told jurors in her opening statement earlier this week that Veltman allegedly planned his attack for three months.

She said Veltman told detectives that his intentions were political, he'd left his home on the day of the attack looking for Muslims to kill and that he'd used a truck to send a message to others that vehicles can be used to attack Muslims.

The trial, which is taking place in Windsor, Ont., is expected to last eight weeks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2023.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press