The time and location of the second day of protests over the death of Sammy Yatim, the 18-year-old man who was shot and tasered by Toronto police officers after he pulled out a knife on a streetcar, has been changed.
Family and friends of Mr. Yatim met with about a dozen local activists last night who are providing megaphones and ensuring pedestrian safety along the protest route. Previously, the protest was to take place at the headquarters of the Toronto Police Service at 40 College St. Mr. Yatim’s family decided at last night’s meeting that the protest will begin at Yonge-Dundas Square at noon on Aug. 13. From there, protesters will march to the police headquarters.
The event is planned to coincide with the next police board meeting on Aug. 13, at 1:30 p.m.
Mr. Yatim was fired at nine times by police after witnesses reported that he brandished a three-inch knife on the westbound Dundas streetcar near Trinity Bellwoods Park. There was no one else on the streetcar with Mr. Yatim, as all the passengers and the driver had already fled the vehicle unharmed. In a bystander’s video of the incident, an officer can be heard tasering Mr. Yatim after he had fallen wounded from the gunshots on to the streetcar floor.
The shooting has raised questions about excessive use of force by police. Mr. Yatim’s family the public have asked if officers are adequately trained to de-escalate conflicts, especially when dealing with disturbed individuals.
“Why could they not have just closed the streetcar doors?” said Joseph Nazar, a close family friend of the Yatims. “They could just sit and wait. The streetcar was empty. He wasn’t there taking hostages. Nobody’s life was in danger.”
On a Facebook page for the protest, more than 500 people have indicated they will attend the event. Approximately 1,000 people attended a vigil for Mr. Yatim last week which included a protest outside two Toronto police stations along the vigil’s route.
The Toronto Police Services Board could not be reached for comment regarding the protest. Their meetings are open to the public.
The Yatim family released a statement last week to say that they bear no “ill will against the thousands of police officers who work to protect us each day.”
“We trust in the Canadian justice system and we will seek justice for Sammy, as he, and all those concerned, are entitled to that at the very least,” the family said in a joint written statement to the media requesting privacy.
The Special Investigations Unit, a provincial civilian body that gets involved when there are incidents of death or serious injury involving police officers, is probing the shooting. Constable James Forcillo has been identified as a subject officer in their investigation. Almost 40,000 people have signed a Change.org petition urging the SIU to lay charges against Constable Forcillo.