Monday, January 25, 2016
The Police Murder of Sammy Yatim: The Shocking Verdict
It's one of the most bizarre verdicts I've ever seen. A Toronto police officer is found guilty of attempted murder for shooting a troubled teenager on a streetcar.
But not guilty of murder.
Even though he killed him.
A jury has found Toronto police Const. James Forcillo guilty of attempted murder in the 2013 shooting death of Sammy Yatim, but not guilty of second-degree murder.
The jury believed Forcillo was justified in firing the first three shots at Yatim. This is reflected in the not guilty verdict for second-degree murder. The jury found Forcillo was not justified in the second round of shots at Yatim and hence was guilty of attempted murder.
And even though it was murder.
Tasering a person who had just been shot nine times is obscene beyond belief.
And if James Forcillo had taken the time to follow his training, and had tried to de-escalate the situation rather than opening fire about a minute after arriving on the scene, Sammy Yatim would be alive today.
And how do I know this? Because I have seen it with my own eyes.
I was once trapped in a kitchen by a psychotic man with a knife I was trying to help.
I talked myself out of danger, and when the Emergency Task Force arrived, they negotiated with him for hours, before finally tackling him, and nobody was hurt.
Talk is cheap, and I have seen it save lives many times.
And the same thing should have happened on that fatal night in July 2013. Because Sammy hadn't hurt anybody, he posed no threat to the police officers at the scene, and he was clearly suffering from some kind of mental breakdown.
If he had been able to reach his father on the phone as he tried to do, the tragedy could have been averted.
And if American police can learn from the example of police in Scotland.
American police officers have turned to Scotland for training on how to do their jobs without reaching for a gun.
While the Scottish approach may be foreign to America's top cops, the results are compelling. It has been over two decades since an officer has been killed by a violent suspect, and it is incredibly rare for an officer to kill a suspect.
Where although knife use is a real problem, police have only shot TWO people in the last TEN years.
So can police in this country.
Because the sad truth is that our police kill far too many mentally ill people.
And that has got to stop. Now.
My only consolation is that James Forcillo will never walk the street as a police officer again, and will never be able to kill another person so casually, and for no good reason.
I hope that more and better training will help save lives.
Even if it comes too late for poor Sammy Yatim, who escaped from the horror of Aleppo, Syria.
Only to be murdered in Canada...
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