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Was the Shooting of Sammy Yatim by Toronto Police Justified?

Sammy Yatim was shot and killed by the Toronto Police on Saturday, 27 July 2013.  The 18-year-old man was wielding a knife on a streetcar. 

This question explores whether the shooting was the appropriate response from the police.  If the shooting was not justified, the question does not review factors that may have played into the response.

 

The Shooting was Justified

The Shooting was not Justified

Police Safety:

Canadians/Torontonians ask police officers to put themselves in harm’s way and need to trust them to use appropriate force.  Sammy Yatim was wielding a knife and not acting rationally.  He threatened a streetcar full of people before the police arrived on scene.

Police Safety:

The police officers were a safe distance from Sammy Yatim at the time of the shooting and there was no apparent threat to their safety.1

Canadians/Torontonians expect police to reinforce the trust of Canadians by responding appropriately and only using violence when absolutely necessary.

Other Factors for Discussion:

If the shooting was not justified:

Officer Training:  This situation points to the need for better training for police officers.  Constable Forcillo, the shooting officer, was a six-year veteran of the police force but spent 2-3 of those years as an unarmed civilian employee.2  It is possible that training quality and lack of experience could have been contributing factors to this outcome.

Tasers vs. Firearms:  Constable Forcillo reportedly called for a taser before firing on Yatim.  However, Ontario rules do not allow most members of the Toronto Police to carry tasers.3  Given the outcome of this situation, maybe we should allow the police a wider range of options when dealing with possibly dangerous situations.

References

1.     National Post: Sammy Yatim’s final warning: New audio reveals officer’s hostile words before teen was shot dead by police: http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/07/29/toronto-prepares-for-anti-police-demonstration-after-shooting-of-sammy-yatim-as-top-cop-promises-answers/

2.   Globe and Mail: Toronto officer being investigated in street car shooting death has been identified: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/lawyer-for-toronto-policeman-in-streetcar-shooting-has-represented-other-accused-officers/article13510431/

3.  Globe and Mail: Why wasn’t Constable Forcillo carrying a taser? http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/why-wasnt-constable-forcillo-carrying-a-taser/article13542517/

Shooting of Sammy Yatim by Toronto Police

Was The Shooting of Sammy Yatim by Toronto Police Justified?

4

Votes

This Would need to be decided through formal inquiry
2

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No
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Yes
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1 Votes left

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