Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Police Officer Charged in the Killing of Sammy Yatim

It was one of the most sickening things I have ever witnessed, the police execution of Sammy Yatim.

A teenager riddled with bullets on a streetcar for no sane reason. And then tasered as he lay there bleeding.

It was brutal, it was senseless, it was madness.

So I couldn't be happier about the decision to charge his killer. 

A Toronto police officer has been committed to stand trial on a charge of second-degree murder in the shooting death of a teenager on a Toronto streetcar last summer. Const. James Forcillo is expected to go to trial next year in the death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim.

Yatim was shot and killed on an empty streetcar on July 27, 2013 — an incident captured on surveillance and cellphone video, on which nine shots can be heard following shouted commands to drop a knife.

Because I can never forget what Rosie Di Manno wrote about that act of irrational violence.

I am sickened that a teenager with a small knife, who’d done nothing more hostile than shout profanities, was felled by a hail of bullets. I am sickened that a suspect already shot and dying was then Tasered. 

I am sickened by the sight of the officer who’d fired the volley of bullets being pulled back by other cops, as if he needed to be restrained. Again I ask: Who was the impetuous and maddened instigator in this cast of characters?

Or how I felt the same way after watching this video.

For nothing will ever convince me that it couldn't have ended differently.

Nor can I forget that Sammy Yatim had escaped from the city of Aleppo, in Syria.

The City of the Dead...

Only to be executed like an animal in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

In a country that was once known for its genius for patient negotiation. 

At the time I wrote about how I was once cornered by a psychotic person with a knife, and how I was able to talk him down, because I realized that he was more frightened of me than I was of him.

And how I couldn't help feeling, as presumptuous as this may seem, that if I had been there I would have been able to do the same thing. And the incident could have ended without anybody getting hurt.

I recognize that there are cases when police officers sometimes have no choice but to shoot someone to protect themselves. But this wasn't one of them.

And what I can never understand or accept is why so many mentally ill people, or humans in emotional distress, are killed by police in Canada for no good reason.

Or for that matter forget how Stephen Harper is trying to criminalize the mentally ill for crass political purposes, and further brutalize this country.

And that's all I can bring myself to say today, so painful is that memory.

Except enough is ENOUGH. 

Poor Sammy Yatim. Let his senseless killing serve some purpose.

And now let there be justice...

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  1. Anonymous6:40 PM

    I can't believe it took this long to charge him. Different sets of rules for Forcillo I guess. Shameful. I hope it's a trial by jury.

    1. Anonymous9:09 PM

      Wow. 2ñd degree murder? What a sick fuck! He clearly wanted to kill that child. Those cops standing by should be charged with accessory to murder. The chief should resign. Sad thing is, if there wasn't video, there would be no charges. If you want a dangerous job, be a taxi driver. They are murdered at a rate twice that of cops. And they can't carry guns. Thanks for creating this culture, Harper!

    2. hi anon...It has taken a long time to charge Forcillo, and its also hard to believe that he has been allowed back on the job after his irrational and murderous behaviour. And yes, in a post at the time I did point out how Harper has created a culture that only encourages that kind of behaviour. He would brutalize our sane Canadian values, but hopefully in the end they will help destroy him...

  2. Anonymous9:10 PM

    He'll get away with it. The trial is only kabuki to appease "the tree-huggers".

    1. hi anon...well we'll see, I just hope that out of this senseless tragedy will come more training on how to deal with mentally ill people, so fewer will be killed. They do receive more training than they once did, but clearly it's not enough...

  3. The eerie thing about the video of the shooting is how blase the other police officers are. As the shots ring out, nobody is diving for cover or taking any defensive measures or shouting questions or orders -- they're all just milling around, walking back and forth, peering into the bus, holding their own weapons at their sides. They didn't seem to be the least bit concerned about what they were seeing.

    1. hi Cathie....I can only hope that the video is being used at police school to show cadets how not to deal with that kind of situation, for it's a debacle from start to finish. They should have contained the incident, and waited for a trained negotiator to arrive. Or the Emergency Task Force that is trained to handle events like that one, and has a psychiatric team attached to it. I have seen them in action and they have managed to defuse the most dangerous situations. Unfortunately, the police on the scene seemed to have been bothered more by the fact the streetcar was blocking a fairly busy route. Which of course is not something they should be concerned about. The incident also took place not far from the so-called Entertainment District which is notorious for fights and drunken behaviour so maybe the officers were slightly frazzled. But that's still no excuse. I haven't the slightest doubt that had they followed their most basic training, Sammy Yatim would be alive today...

  4. Noah Patterson12:07 PM

    The cop will get a fine and time served and maybe a period of "desk work" and be back on the streets in no time.

    1. hi Noah...I hope you're wrong, and I know for sure that some police officers and emergency personnel were as shocked by what happened as I was. I'm afraid that Forcillo was probably incensed by Yadim taunting police from inside the streetcar and calling them "pussies." There was some talk at the time that it could be a case of so called roid rage, as Forcillo was a bodybuilder. But whether it was or not there can be no excuse for gunning down a disturbed teenager who trapped in that streetcar was not a threat to anyone...