Fatal shooting of teenager in Toronto triggers outrage


Wed, Jul 31, 2013 - Page 7

A Toronto police officer was suspended with pay after he fatally shot a young man wielding a knife in an empty streetcar, police said on Monday, as hundreds of people in Canada’s largest city protested against the shooting.

Some protesters called it unnecessary police force.

A former Toronto police detective who saw the video said it appeared that “excessive” force had been used.

Investigators were looking into the circumstances surrounding the shooting, the city’s police chief said.

The video shows 18-year-old Sammy Yatim holding a knife inside the streetcar early on Saturday, with police outside.

Yatim goads police while officers yell: “Drop your knife.”

Shortly after, three shots are fired. After a pause, six more shots are fired. A Taser is later used on Yatim. Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, which is charged with carrying out independent investigations of police shootings, was examining the shooting.

Toronto police spokesman Tony Vella confirmed that the officer involved has been suspended with pay.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said he has seen the video and is conducting a parallel investigation. He said he understands the public’s concern.

“I recognize there is a need for answers,” Blair said.

Mark Mendelson, a former Toronto police detective, said investigators have the benefit of the video, which “doesn’t lie.”

“If you look at it on its face value at this point, it’s not hard to come to the conclusion that excessive force was used,” Mendelson said.

Mendelson also said there are numerous civilian witnesses and at least two video angles of the shooting, including security camera footage.

Hundreds, including Yatim’s mother and sister, took part in a march on Monday evening that called for justice for Yatim and an end to police violence.