Thursday, August 01, 2013
Sammy Yatim and the City of the Dead
I've now seen all I need to see about the police execution of Sammy Yatim.
Almost more than I can bear to watch. And like Rosie DiManno, more than enough to sicken me.
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?
Like so many others I have so many questions. Why did his self appointed executioner fire NINE bullets at the teenager when the first one brought him down? What was he thinking? What killer frenzy was he in? And why was he a police officer in Toronto, Ontario, CANADA?
But the question that haunts me the most, and may never be definitively answered, is what was happening to Sammy Yatim in the moments before he was killed?
“He didn’t pay me any attention. He just walked right by me,” said 28-year-old Doyle. “He seemed angry. He was very focused on something at the front of the streetcar. I’m not sure if it was the people or just one person in particular.” When Doyle saw Yatim, the knife was in his right hand and his left held his exposed genitals.
Why was that usually quiet shy teenager exposing himself, and walking around with a knife pointed straight up, more like a light saber than a weapon? Why didn't he attack anyone?
“If he really wanted to stab someone, he would have acted more quickly: he wouldn’t have walked so slowly toward the front of the streetcar, he wouldn’t have been yelling those commands — he would have just stabbed somebody.”
Was he angry or frightened? Did he really beg for a chance to call his father?
Just moments before he was shot and killed by police, did Sammy Yatim beg to borrow a cellphone to call his father who was away on a business trip?
There have been several unconfirmed tips suggesting Yatim told the TTC streetcar operator he “wanted to call his dad” and that the driver was prepared to let him before instead opting to exit the streetcar.
Before he was brought down by a hail of bullets like some dangerous animal.
And was he really there in that fatal streetcar? Or was he back in the hellish place he had escaped from?
Aleppo, the Syrian City of the Dead...
The UNESCO World Heritage site reduced to a feral place of brutal violence, and neverending horror.
His mother still lives there, so do his childhood friends. He missed them. He must have been worried about them. He tried to fit in, but how do you ever escape a place like that?
Did that horror, combined with the stress of having to leave his father's home for smoking marijuana, and all the other pressures of being a teenager and an immigrant, finally cause Sammy to crack up?
Did the police shoot another mentally ill person? Like Edmond Yu and so many others?
A person acts out, the cops show up, bullets fly, and the person dies. It could happen to you, your son, your brother, your cousin, your friend. It happens too often here.
Did they learn NOTHING from all those deaths?
That the aim of crisis resolution should be de-escalation and the resolution of situations without physical force.
That police officers, whenever possible, should maintain a sufficient reactionary gap to give them the time to disengage, tactically reposition themselves and or react in such a way which prevents a situation from escalating from the verbal to the violent.”
And when is enough ENOUGH? For this slaughter of the mentally ill simply cannot continue if we are to call ourselves a civilized country.
Let's just hope the senseless brutality of Sammy's death shocks the public into demanding better from our police forces. So it never happens again.
So his short life has some meaning. Instead of just savage irony.
Poor Sammy Yatim.
Who escaped the City of the Dead.
Only to be murdered in Toronto...
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