Police announce charges in Toronto officer's death
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Thursday, January 13, 2011 9:30PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 3:40AM EDT
A man has been charged in the death of a Toronto police officer who was killed in the line of duty while trying to stop a stolen snowplow.
Toronto police Chief Bill Blair announced Thursday morning that 44-year-old Richard Esber Kachkar has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sgt. Ryan Russell. The suspect also faces two counts of attempted murder.
Blair said Kachkar is of no fixed address, though Ontario's Special Investigations Unit reports that the suspect used to live in St. Catharines, Ont.
It's believed he spent the previous night at Toronto's nearby Good Shepherd shelter, but left without signing out. He has no criminal record and is separated but not legally divorced.
The police chief said the investigation has been aided by "the availability of video from Sgt. Russell's scout car and from evidence that has been provided by a number of civilian witnesses that stepped forward to assist in our investigation."
A press release from the SIU indicates that Kachkar is still recovering from injuries at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.
The police community is still in the midst of mourning Russell's death, only 24 hours after the 11-year police veteran was killed while on duty.
Russell is being remembered for his bravery on the last day of his life, as well as his service to the public and his roles as a police officer, father and husband.
The 35-year-old sergeant died Wednesday after being hit by a snowplow that had been stolen and driven erratically along city streets.
The SIU reports that an Emergency Task Force team later "boxed the plow in" after it had struck both an occupied car and a city garbage truck.
ETF officers then made "attempts" to arrest and subdue the suspect. During this time an officer fired his pistol and struck the suspect.
Son, wife left behind
Russell is survived by his wife, Christine, and two-year-old son, Nolan, who are grieving his loss along with friends, colleagues and the wider police community.
Mike McCormack, the president of the Toronto Police Association, knew Russell personally and was one of the first to learn of his death.
"It was one of the worst days of my life. Absolutely, the worst nightmare you can imagine," McCormack told CTV.
McCormack met Russell's wife at the hospital and was present when she learned of her husband's death.
"She came to the hospital and Chief Blair and myself, we sat down … and broke her the news," he said.
"She is in total shock and it's a real difficult thing for her to be going through."
The police community will rally around the Russell family, McCormack said, as they go through one of the darkest moments of their lives.
"We feel as if we've all lost a family member, but we really rally behind our family in times of need," he said.
Plans to honour Russell are still being finalized by police, Blair said Thursday.
The Russell family has issued a release thanking the public and the police for "their outpouring of love and support, thoughts and prayers.
"Every single member of Ryan's family is touched. The warm, heartfelt comments bring much comfort to our hearts."
However, the family asked for continued privacy.
‘A genuine Canadian hero'
A funeral service for the officer will be held at the South Building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 1 p.m.
Public visitations will be held Sunday from 1-5 p.m. and Monday from 3-7 p.m. at the Jarrett Funeral Home in Thornhill, Ont.
Police leaders across the country are expressing their grief about Russell's death.
Robert Herman, the president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and the chief of police in Thunder Bay, paid tribute to the sacrifice Russell made protecting the public.
"His death in the line of duty touches all police officers and represents the greatest sacrifice that an officer can make for his or her fellow citizens. He must be remembered as a genuine Canadian hero," Herman said in a statement released Wednesday.
Charles Momy, the president of the Canadian Police Association, said officers across Canada will be present to honour Russell's memory when a service is arranged.
"There's no doubt in my mind that when the funeral arrangements are made for Sgt. Russell, we will again see thousands of police officers descend down on Toronto for the funeral," Momy said.
Even the newest recruits to policing are mourning Russell's loss. When 42 new Toronto police officers attended their graduation ceremony on Thursday, Blair told them that Russell's death was a tragic reminder of the dangers they face in policing.
Russell had recently been promoted to the rank of sergeant, supervising officers working in 52 Division.
Hours after his death, Blair said the young sergeant had been well-liked and earned the respect of his fellow officers.
"He really made a strong impression upon them and are mourning that loss today," Blair said, when speaking to reporters about Russell's death on Wednesday.
The fallen officer is the son of Glen Russell, a retired officer who also served with Toronto police.
Retired homicide detective Dave Perry remembers meeting Russell's father when working for the Toronto police years ago.
"Anybody who joined the Toronto Police Service back in the 70s when they had a big, mass hiring, knew Glen and knew him as a very hard-working, jovial, happy police officer," Perry said.
Perry said the sons and daughters of many police officers end up in the same line of work as their parents.
And with Ryan Russell's death, Perry said he thinks "it just adds an extra piece to this horrible tragedy, the fact that his father served so proudly for so many years and my heart goes out to Glen and his entire family for what's happened here."
With files from The Canadian Press