Thursday, January 13, 2011

Reluctant Witness - Officer Down: The Morning I will Never Forget.

Sgt. Ryan Rusell - Killed in the Line of Duty
It was just after six this morning when I first heard the call for a stolen plow. As I was approaching Queens Park on University I heard the call for Avenue and Davenport. Shots fired officer down. “He's barely breathing dispatcher, bleeding from the head and unconscious.” They had already put a rush on EMS.

When I arrived moments later Sergeant Ryan Rusell was lying in the middle of Avenue Road. The snowplow and driver had already fled the scene. Another cop was hot on his tail. I grabbed some video of the officer being treated and loaded for the emergency run to St. Mike's. We cover scenes like this every night. Obviously this one was different. My heart sank as I watched. CPR was in progress. It was at that point I realized his injuries might be fatal.

I then headed west, an unmarked police car followed behind the snowplow as the driver bounced off parked cars and led police on a slow speed pursuit through the Bloor West area. Several times the plow did u-turns on Bloor. That’s how he came to pass me a few times as my dash camera rolled. I followed along as police waited for ETF to get into the area and assist. It took about an hour for officers to get into position. All marked police cars backed off and let the unmarked car call the position of the plow.

As the plow headed up Keele St from Dundas it all came to an end near Humberside Dr. The suspect crashed the plow into a City of Toronto garbage truck. Once again I found myself the first camera on the scene. As I rounded the corner of Humberside and Keele the call came across. Officer down shots fired. “We need two ambulances. The suspect has been shot.” I arrived as an ETF officer limped to a nearby van, assisted by his fellow officers. They were holding him at both elbows. It was chaotic to say the least.

The suspect was loaded into an ambulance and rushed to St.Mike's. The same hospital that tried to save Sgt. Rusell would now be tasked with saving the suspect. Toronto EMS crews dealing with both sides of a tragedy, helping where they can, as best they can. We have so many everyday heroes in this city.

I got two interviews at the Humberside location. The first with the owner of the snowplow, who told me his operator, had been plowing in the Regent Park area. He was out doing some shoveling by hand when a shoeless man came from a nearby building and jumped into the snowplow. He was able to track the plows movements and relay that to police. That is how the Sergeant caught up with the plow on Avenue Road. The plow company owner said in an interview that he was so sad how things had unfolded and hoped the injured officers would be ok. He was holding back the tears as he recounted the events of the morning.

Another young man told me in an interview how he ended up in the middle of the final takedown and that he heard seven or eight shots, as officers rushed the plow. He said the plow was stopped after hitting the garbage truck but may have started moving again as the shots were fired.

I had already been live with CBC News Network three times, the final hit as the pursuit ended with the victim being shot. I rushed back to the station and did a couple more appearances on News Network to discuss what I witnessed. Then it was end of shift. It was a futile attempt to sleep.

The CBC team did an excellent job of presenting the story. It was complex to say the least.

I’m back on the road. Waiting for the next story to break. As I left the house tonight I hugged my wife and daughter a little longer than usual. It’s so sad that this officer went to work, protecting us from danger, and never returned to his family.

Tony Smyth - Videographer CBC Toronto

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cross Border Rip Off

I want to take a few minutes away from my role as a spot news videographer to highlight an injustice. Canada is a great country but our retailers are taking advantage of us on a daily basis. It’s like they are taking money right out of our wallets. It’s just not right.

With our dollar now closing above or near par with the greenback on a regular basis, we continue to be overcharged for our purchases, paying substantially more for the same products in Canada as they do in America. In Toronto we sit one hour away from the US border but our retailers refuse to lower prices and charge Canadians fairly.

We already pay significantly higher taxes north of the border. Some would argue that we are better serviced by our government in return. We are left with much less “after tax” income and we have our buying power further eroded by corporate greed at the retail level.

Here are just a few examples of how we continue to be gouged by retailers. I for one have decided to hold off on any big purchases and just shuffle off to Buffalo when I need anything big.

Gold's Gym 480 Treadmill $599.00 (advertising $600 off until Jan 28 Reg. $1199.00) $377.00

Monday, January 3, 2011