Wednesday marks the deadline for Chief Bill Blair to complete his internal probe into the controversial shooting death of a Toronto teenager, but he could seek an extension when he appears before the Police Services Board next month.
On Aug. 19, the province’s Special Investigations Unit laid second-degree murder charges against Constable James Forcillo, who fired several rounds at Sammy Yatim while the 18-year-old was alone on a streetcar and wielding a knife. According to the Police Services Act, the chief has 30 days to report to the board on the conduct of officers involved in the incident – putting his deadline at Sept. 18.
Toronto Police Services Board chair Alok Mukherjee said that while the chief’s deadline is officially Wednesday, the report would actually be submitted at the next board meeting, on Oct. 7.
“Under normal circumstances, that’s when I would expect his report,” Mr. Mukherjee said, adding that past investigations have faced delays. “I haven’t heard from the chief that he needs more time.”
Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash said he could not discuss specific cases. He noted that technical deadlines aren't always firm and that the board receives briefings on ongoing investigations at their confidential monthly sessions.
“The 30-day rule follows on the SIU investigation, but there are other factors that can come into play and stop the clock," he said.
The July shooting sparked public debate about use of force, including the tasering of Mr. Yatim after he was wounded. “The charges were laid against Forcillo,” Mr. Mukherjee said. “But there are others: the sergeant who used his taser and the 22-odd other officers who did or did not do certain things.”
He said the chief’s report, which the board may decide to make public, could result in charges against one or more officers under the Police Services Act or the Criminal Code, or no charges at all.
Chief Blair has also asked former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci to assist with his review of the service’s use-of-force tactics when dealing with emotionally disturbed people, but those recommendations aren’t expected until at least the end of the year.
Editor's Note: The above story was changed to reflect the fact that Mark Pugash did not discuss the specific case of the report on Sammy Yatim.Report Typo/Error