Sun, Jul 28: New video gives more context to a confrontation between a man armed with an knife, and several police officers. Some say it was by the book – others are questioning the use of deadly force. Peter Kim reports.
TORONTO – A knife-wielding man killed by Toronto Police officers early Saturday morning has been identified as 18-year-old Sammy Yatim.
According to his social media profile, Yatim lived in Toronto, but was originally from Aleppo, Syria.
The circumstances surrounding Yatim’s shooting death by police has drawn widespread attention after amateur videos of the teen’s final moments were released on YouTube.
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The video shows a number of police officers surrounding a stopped TTC street car at Dundas Street West between Grace and Euclid.
Jeremy Ing was a passenger on the street car. He remembers his early morning ride interrupted by girls screaming.
“So I looked at the back of the streetcar and saw that the gentlemen had stepped out of his seat and threatened them with a knife, and was holding the penis is his hand as well.”
The bus driver stopped the streetcar and evacuated the other passengers; only Yatim was left on the bus.
“He didn’t seem mentally present,” says Ing.
“Whether that was drugs or some other substance, I’m not sure.”
In the video, officers with their guns drawn are seen communicating with Yatim from outside the street car.
Then, several shots are fired, followed by half-a-dozen more. In total, nine gunshots are heard, followed by a tazer discharge.
Ing says that while police were quick to respond, they were also quick to act.
“In my mind it seemed like it couldn’t have been more than a couple minutes between the time when police arrived and the end of the situation.”
The reported speed of the officers’ response drew criticism from online commentators, including one of Yatim’s relatives.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is currently investigating Yatim’s death.
The SIU is an arm’s length watchdog agency mandated to investigate incidences where someone has been seriously injured, dies or alleges sexual assault during interactions with law enforcement.
In a statement released Saturday, the SIU indicated that Yatim (then unnamed) had died from a single gunshot wound.
With files from Global News’ Peter Kim.