Police tactics questioned in Toronto streetcar shooting death
Watch: Public confidence in police shaken after shooting of Sammy Yatim. Jackson Proskow reports.
TORONTO – The tactics used by Toronto police in the shooting death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim aboard a TTC streetcar on the weekend may have gone too far, says a former Toronto police investigator.
“I know the Toronto police are trained to do well with tactical takedowns, this did not to me look like at all a good tactical takedown,” said former Toronto Police Service investigator Ross McLean during an interview on The Morning Show Tuesday.
“They know how to de-escalate, they know how to be tactical, but here in this one it seemed to go very fast to an escalation,” McLean said. “It just ramped up to the point there’s audio that apparently has the officer very close to daring this young man to step forward and when he stepped forward, that’s when he was shot.”
WATCH: Former Toronto police investigator Ross McLean appears on The Morning Show to discuss the actions of police after an 18-year-old was shot and killed on a TTC streetcar.
Yatim was shot and killed just after midnight Saturday on the 505 streetcar on Dundas Street West near Bellwoods Avenue.
The 18-year-old was allegedly holding a knife and no one else was in the vehicle when he was shot.
A video of the incident was captured by several witnesses and uploaded to YouTube.
“The officer who did the original three shots is looking at him, making an assessment and for some reason he decided that he was an imminent threat for the first three shots, he was an imminent threat for six shots after,” explained McLean.
The unidentified officer involved has since been suspended with pay.
The shooting is being investigated by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU).
A statement released Monday by the SIU indicated that Yatim “sustained multiple gunshot wounds” and that a “conducted energy weapon was also deployed.”
The SIU examines incidents in which police are involved in reports of death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.
McLean says the SIU, in almost every case, has cleared officers and given them the benefit of the doubt if there’s someone with a knife in their presence.
“Even in the past, there was one young man who was shot three times on his back, on the ground, off of a bus, and the fatal shot came when he was getting up again, despite the fact he was surrounded by officers,” said McLean.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Torontonians participated in a protest march Monday evening to bring further awareness to the police shooting that has raised the ire of many across Toronto.
Yatim’s mother, Sahar Bahadi, said in an interview with Global News Monday that she too was shocked at the way Toronto police handled the situation.
“The thing I care that, they shoot my kid, my son and I didn’t know why. I watched the video, he was standing with a knife, not with a gun but with a knife and I felt that he was very afraid, I felt it. I felt that he was very afraid,” she said.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair expressed his condolences to the Yatim family on Monday and promised to provide answers as soon as possible.
“As a father, I can only imagine the terrible grief and the need for answers,” said Blair during a statement to the media. “We will do our best to ensure those answers are provided.”
Chief Blair also said he’ll do his own report into procedures and police practices, which will be forwarded to the Toronto Police Services Board after the SIU submits its findings.
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