|Protesters march to Metropolitan Toronto Police Headquarters Aug. 13 demanding arrest and prosecution of cop James Forcillo, who fatally shot Sammy Yatim nine times July 27.|
Forcillo fatally shot Yatim on a Toronto Transit Commission streetcar. According to witnesses, Yatim quickly found himself alone in the streetcar after brandishing a three-inch knife in an apparent disturbed mental state, first ordering passengers to remain, then ordering them off the car.
A video taken by a passerby and widely viewed on the Internet shows Yatim alone, standing in the aisle near the front of the streetcar as five cops on the street ordered him to drop his knife. Fourteen seconds later Forcillo fires nine shots through the front door entrance at Yatim. Another video taken from a nearby security store camera released to the public shows Yatim crumpling to the floor after the first three bullets are fired, his legs still moving. About seven seconds later Forcillo fires six more rounds at Yatim, definitively ending his life.
Charges were laid by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, a provincial civilian body set up to investigate deaths involving police. Forcillo is the third Ontario cop to be charged with murder in the 23-year history of the SIU. After turning himself in, Forcillo was released on $510,000 bail Aug. 20.
The charges came a week after the second of two demonstrations here organized by the Yatim family and supporters.
The march of several hundred to the Metropolitan Toronto Police Headquarters Aug. 13 was led by Sarah Yatim, sister of Sammy Yatim, and family friends from the back of a pickup truck. They shouted slogans that included “charge the police with murder.”
“The cop who killed my brother is getting paid right now. That cop should go to jail,” Sarah Yatim told the demonstrators. “My brother was one of many teenagers like him. He didn’t deserve to die.”
Participants included families and friends of other victims of cop killings as well as activists with the Black Action Defence Committee, which has been campaigning since 1988 against killings by Toronto cops, Reuben Abib, a leader of the group, told the crowd.
“I came to honor my son Trevor, who was killed by the police in 2007,” Karyn Greenwood-Graham told the Militant. “I always support people in these situations.” Speaking earlier to the crowd, she called the move by Toronto Police Chief William Blair to set up an independent review of police procedures led by a retired judge “pure tokenism.”
A statement issued by the Yatim family said they were relieved that the charges had been laid, but called on the SIU to “continue looking into the actions of the supervising police officer(s) and the other officers in attendance for their lack of intervention in this tragedy” and pointed out that of the more than 20 cops present “no one stepped forward to stop the gun shots or offer any mediation.”
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