TORONTO - Toronto police are asking the public to help identify a suspect who appears to be urinating on a sleeping homeless man outside Toronto's Eaton Centre _ a shocking incident captured in a video posted online.
"I think this is one of the worst acts of degradation that I've seen in my career," lead investigator Det. Kirby Reddin told reporters on Wednesday.
"I think there's a lot of rage in the community about this," he said. "I don't think anyone would have any problem stepping forward and providing the information that we need to make an arrest."
Police think the video was shot in the evening hours at the busy downtown intersection between Nov. 17 and Dec. 1, 2011.
The graphic 27-second clip was uploaded Tuesday onto the website World Star Hip Hop by a user named jamiee678876678.
By Wednesday night, it had been viewed more than 210,000 times.
The video, titled "Real Or Fake? Cold-Hearted Thug Urinates On Sleeping Homeless Man In Downtown Toronto!" begins with a young man walking up to the homeless man sleeping on a dirty sidewalk outside one of Canada's largest malls.
The video shows the back of the man as he appears to unzip his pants and apparently urinate on the homeless man's face.
The man, who is sleeping in fetal position, does not seem to wake up.
Cheers can be heard from people off camera who are watching the incident unfold.
Reddin said police are in the process of trying to collect surveillance footage from nearby businesses, but were not optimistic of being successful because many stores do not keep video for that long.
He called the video "filthy" and said police will ask the website to take it down.
"At this point, there is no reason to think this is a hoax," said Reddin. "I feel that it's a real video but I can't say that for sure."
Nurse Anne Marie Batten, who works with the Toronto homeless agency Street Health, said she recognizes the sleeping man but does not know him.
This is the first time she's heard of this particular kind of attack but added that assaults on the homeless are "very common."
"We do hear stories from homeless folks who say they're victims of violence and have been robbed — everyday," said Batten.
She said the man appeared to be sleeping on a pamphlet about hope, faith and a better life that is commonly handed out to the homeless.
Peter Duraisami, the CEO of the Scott Mission, said the homeless do not deserve this kind of treatment.
"It sickens me when people could laugh at a situation like this," he said. "My heart breaks for the man on the street. He is a human being."
Police describe the suspect as black, between 18 and 25, with an average height and build and black hair tied back.
He was last seen wearing a grey baseball cap with a dark brim, a grey jacket with black sleeves, baggy blue jeans with a blue pattern on the right back pocket and a red pattern on the left rear pocket of his jeans.
This isn't the first time a video posted on World Star Hip Hop has attracted controversy. In November 2011, a video titled "Pregnant woman fights hood chicks" showed a group of girls viciously beating a woman near the same intersection.