Off-Duty Officer Arrests Armed Man
An off-duty police officer, who intervened in an attempted carjacking and arrested a suspect who shot at him during a brief foot chase in Scarborough, was honoured with a Merit Mark at the Toronto Police Service Awards at headquarters on April 18.
Just after midnight on September 10, 2022, Constable Igor Zdrazhko stopped at a plaza near Morningside Ave. & Staines Rd. to get some food after work.
While waiting in his car for the food, Zdrazhko observed two men with hoodies over their heads walking around the plaza looking into cars.
“They looked into my car and walked off,” he recalled.
While eating in his vehicle, he saw the same men go to a nearby gas station.
“A few minutes later, I heard screams coming from the direction of the gas station and I knew that something had happened,” said Zdrazhko. “When I looked in the area where the yelling was coming from, I saw the same two males running away.”
It is alleged they attempted to steal a vehicle with the driver and passenger inside. One of the suspects pointed a firearm at them, but the driver drove off and the suspect fled on foot.
When both males jumped a nearby fence and headed for a dark open field, Zdrazhko pursued them on foot.
“As I was running towards them, they split up and went in different directions,” he said. “All I had on me was a satchel and a pair of handcuffs. I went after one them, shouting ‘This is the police, stop.’ As I continued the pursuit, he said he was going to shoot me. As soon as I realized he might be armed, the guy discharged a firearm. I changed direction because I now when you are running, it’s hard to shoot straight. As I continued chasing him, I smelt the gunpowder and knew it was not a BB gun.”
The suspect lost one of his shoes while running and slowed down.
“That was good because I was able to get close to him and tackle him to the ground from behind,” said Zdrazhko. “I grabbed his right hand where he had the gun, ripped it out of his grasp and threw it out of his reach. He started screaming loud and I thought that he might have been trying to get his partner’s attention. After looking around to see if the other male was coming in our direction, I took out my handcuffs and arrested him. I reminded him that I am a police officer and he is under arrest for attempted robbery and discharging a firearm.”
With the suspect under arrest, the officer called 9-1-1 for back up.
Inspector Michael Williams, the second in Command at 42 Division, praised Zdrazhko’s courage and dedication.
“To do what he did while off-duty to protect members of the public goes above and beyond,” he said. “He went way beyond what anyone would ask one of our officers to do and we are just thankful that the outcome was good and he is okay.”
Granted by the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB), the Merit Mark is awarded for exemplary acts of bravery, performance of duty, community policing initiatives or innovations that enhance the image or operation of the Service.
Commendations, Mental Health Excellence Awards, Teamwork Commendations and Community Member Awards were also presented at the event for officers and civilian members who showed dedication and compassion in their work, whether it be ensuring people in a mental health crisis were safe or by leading complex investigations.
“Tonight’s award winners are, indeed, some of the very best among us,” said Chief Myron Demkiw. “And I am certain that if asked about their role, most of them will say, ‘I was just doing my job.’ While I appreciate the humility of our First Responders, I am so glad that all of us are here tonight because I think it is important that we take the time to recognize and celebrate their remarkable achievements.”
The Chief told the winners that their efforts and the inspiration they provide have frankly been never so important than this time when respect, collaboration and building trust in communities are absolutely critical to the success of the work that the organization does.
“Your willingness to go above and beyond in finding solutions to the complex challenges facing our city, your courageous actions in the face of danger and your resilience in the face of adversity help us to build stronger and safer communities and make your colleagues and city so proud,” Demkiw added.
“As your Chief, I am honoured to have the privilege of leading a police service with individuals of such high caliber and I want to express my immense gratitude and appreciation for your work.”
TPSB Interim Chair Lisa Kostakis said the awardees truly demonstrate excellence in policing.
“Their actions inspire each one of us to strive for new heights of professionalism and service to the community,” she said. “The members of the Toronto Police Service are out there on our streets each and every day making our city safer, kinder and better. They face great danger with selfless courage and deal with countless situations of chaos, sadness and risk with their trademark professionalism, compassion and dedication.”
The Commendation winners were Erica Butula, Courtney Ervick and Jaclyn Slaney of Forensic Identification Services, Joan Stamp of Parking Enforcement and Retired Sergeant Douglas Surphlis of the Toronto Police Operations Centre.
Detective Allan Racette of the Organized Crime Enforcement Unit and 41 Division Constables Lloyd Samuell and Akin Gul were the Mental Health Excellence Award honourees.
The Community Award recipients were Josh Kramer, Alykhan Walli, Brad Thompson, Teymuraz Chichagua, Steve Miller and Christine Yoo of the Marine Unit.
Teamwork Commendations were presented to Retired Sergeant Harold Morris, Sergeants Matthew Daigle, Antonia Macias, Scott Allan and Melissa Misiuda, Detective Kwang Lee and Constables Maria Paz Arias Vernal, Courtney Bennett, Joseph Dropuljic, Timothy Price, Antonio Rumolo, Kevin Stevenson, Adam Veleke, Alexander Young, Hillary Dean, Wendy Gray, Amrit Nijjar, Azeem Patel, Marco Ricciardi, Philip Semczuk, Harris Syed, Harpreet Sahota, Jonathan Chan, Scott Hodgson, Katelyn Holden, Rajendra Persaud, Janet Stather and Christopher Thomas.
Other Teamwork Commendation winners were Constables Alykhan Walli, Andrew Taylor, Farshad Daryaram, Jacques Zinati, Bradley Wilson, Kevin Steele, Jason Keegan, Bradley Coutts, Elena Stepanenko, Noreen Gordon, Adrian Terzo and Civilians Elizabeth Rosen and Heather Hosking.