Police in London, Ontario killed Samuel Maloney, 35, early Friday morning around 6 AM, December 23, 2016, at his home on the city’s Duchess Avenue. Police fired into the house and killed the victim while at least one child, including a toddler, was present inside. A woman, said to be living at the home, was reported immediately after the killing by police to be holding the toddler. Two children, the two-year-old boy and a six-month-old baby girl live in the house. Their father is now dead.
The differential and deferential treatment given killer police by mass media compared to what is shown to the victims of police is exemplified in the headline used by the National Post newspaper in the case of this killing. The headline, “London Cop Shot with a Crossbow During Confrontation that Led to Man Being Gunned Down by Police,” focuses on harm supposedly incurred by an officer (an injury) rather than the killing of the civilian (who may have had nothing to do with the crossbow). In fact the national paper does not even give the victim the dignity of saying he was killed by police. Instead he was “gunned down” as if some undeserving villain in an old West drama. The stricken officer is even given first notice, and primary concern, in the first sentence in the article. Yet the officer’s injuries are reported as only minor.
The news accounts also focus on a previous weapons raid at the home in 2007, when Maloney was 26. This sets the stage to pose the victim as a legitimate target. Despite the fact that, as the report later reveals, Samuel Maloney was found to have all of his weapons properly registered. This image of a weapons hoarder in a Canadian context is explicitly meant to evoke the vision of some gun obsessed survivalist a la the US context of NRA extremists. Yet it is curious that someone with a supposedly massive weapons cache would use a crossbow rather than a gun if they sought to do real damage to police. Interestingly though it is the victim’s partner Melissa Facciolo, 35, who is charged with possession of a prohibited weapon—the crossbow.
As in virtually every case in which police kill a civilian in Canada, the media turn focus directly to the history of the victim to legitimize whatever actions police might have taken. This case is no different in that regard. Yet there is nothing to suggest that the victim’s weapons ownership is in any way related to violent or threatening or even seriously criminal behavior. And in any event, as in all such cases, random or trivial accounts of some aspect of personal history say nothing about a victim’s activities in the moment in which police killed them.
It has still not been independently confirmed that Maloney was the person who supposedly fired a cross bow striking an officer. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which investigates cases of harm to civilians by police officers in Ontario, has designated three subject officers as well as 18 witness officers in the case. Apparently no charge have been disclosed related to any reason police attended the house in the first place. In addition police refuse to say why they were at the home.
Carruthers Dale and Jennifer O’Brien. 2016. “London Cop Shot with a Crossbow During Confrontation that Led to Man Being Gunned Down by Police.” National Post. December 23. http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/london-cop-shot-with-a-crossbow-during-confrontation-that-led-to-man-being-gunned-down-by-police