The coroner’s inquest into the police killing of Andrew Loku began in Toronto on Monday, June 5, 2017. Loku, a 45-year-old refugee from South Sudan who struggled with mental health issues after having been kidnapped and tortured there, was shot and killed by Toronto police as he stood in his apartment hallway on July 5, 2015. On Thursday, June 8, 2017, the 911 call that preceded his killing was released as part of the inquest.
The call reveals that police waited no more than 19 seconds after encountering Loku before shooting and killing him. He had stood in the hallway without harming anyone for at least four minutes and forty seconds before police arrived. The two officers, one a coach and the other a new recruit with only a few months on the job, are immediately heard on the tape telling Loku to drop his perceived weapon, a hammer he held at his side. Indistinct noises, mostly yelling by police, follow over the 19 seconds. And then. Two very distinct gunshots.
The 911 caller, distraught: “Oh, my god. Oh, my god.”
The 911 operator: “What was that?”
The caller: “That was gunshots. Gunshots from the police officer.”
A male voice then breaks through telling everyone to stay in their apartments. This is repeated by the operator.
Then the caller, in pained recognition: “They killed him?”
The operator: “Oh, my. What?”
Then, sadly, a child, softly: “He’s dead?”
Clearly, violent force was first and foremost on the officers’ minds. There was no, even minimal, attempt to interact humanly with Andrew Loku. Never mind de-escalation, because the police were the only ones to escalate in the first place. Nineteen seconds was all they gave him.