I am a frequent TTC customer and in my commute, I like to be dead to the world so I surround myself with sounds from self-help speakers or Hip Hop artists until I reach my destination.
But then Sammy Yatim happened. Had I been in that streetcar, I would not have noticed him, but I don’t think I would have been in any danger to be honest. I mean, if you look at the video, I saw him with a knife, which cleared the streetcar, but he could have injured a lot of the passengers that were in that vehicle. People rushed passed him and left without a scratch.
‘If I had known everything I do now, I would never have taken the second volley.’- Const. James Forcillo, Toronto police
To be honest, I or anyone else can’t speak on behalf of Sammy Yatim or explain his actions because his voice has been taken away from him by James Forcillo.
Now, there are two sides to a story. We have the side of the video, which the world has seen and we have the side of Officer Forcillo. Again, that Sammy can’t speak on his own behalf because he has been denied that option.
The video shows us that on July 27th, 2013, Sammy Yatim, after having Ecstasy and Marijuana in his system; Sammy Yatim took out a knife in a packed streetcar. The streetcar cleared and he was alone. Shortly after, Constable James Forcillo. After a brief exchange, the officer shot Yatim 3 times, which dropped and then an additional 6 times as he laid on the ground.
The police officer is currently on trial for the shooting death of Yatim. He is being charged for 2nd degree murder and attempted murder. The first charge is due to the first volley of shots, which were the cause of death. The second charge is due to the second volley of shots. Sammy Yatim was hit by 8 shots.
In court, the prosecutor, Mr. Milan Rupic, told Forcillo that he was not there to win, to which he replied, “I disagree completely. You are trained to win the situation so we all go home safely.”
James Forcillo went in court stating that police officers do not get paid to get stabbed or shot. He said that they were paid to go home in one piece.
According to him, police training states that the best way to handle a confrontation is to draw your firearm after a knife is spotted. Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Michael Federico states that officers are trained that someone with a knife is not an imminent threat. Deputy Chief Michael Federico is considered to be an expert on use of force.
James Forcillo says that after having shot Sammy with the first volley of shots, when he was on the ground, he thought that he posed a risk as he laid there, so he gave unloaded a second time.
I’m not writing this to be impartial. That’s for the judge and jury to do. I’m writing this to share the facts so I can provide my opinion.
Officer James Forcillo should have never been there that night. He knows nothing of the procedures as per Michael Federico’s description of said procedures.
Plus, he had already killed Yatim but felt like he was a risk while on the ground as he laid there motionless. How? That’s my question. How could he be a threat?
James Forcillo, like much officers out there, is a gun fanatic who just needed an excuse to use his weapon that night. Proper procedures to de-escalate such a situation, as per Federico is to:
“ask questions such as ‘What’s your name? What’s wrong? What’s troubling you? Tell me what I can do to help? What is it you need?’”
But according to Forcillo, “Pointing a firearm is considered a part of de-escalation.”
If this one cop believes that, how many others believe the same? Who teaches them that? Their instructor as they go through police training? Seasoned officers who teaches them the ropes once they’re officially done with training? Are they just officers who have seen so much on the field that they started making their own rules instead of following the law they’re supposed to uphold?
We are living in a time where the lives of people of darker skin complexion are not regarded. Pale skin people are viewed as human beings and, therefore, worthy of being talked to when such a situation arises. Watch the news for the proof of it all!
Dark skin folks just face the same fate Sammy Yatim when the situation does not warrant it.