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Streetcar in Yatim shooting will retain original serial number

Friends of Sammy Yatim, who was killed by Toronto Police in an altercation on a streetcar, place their hands on the hearse carrying his casket from a funeral home in Toronto August 1, 2013.


The streetcar that Sammy Yatim was in when he was shot and tasered by police will be back in service this week with its serial number the same as it was before the incident, according to the Toronto Transit Commission.

TTC spokesman Brad Ross said that senior staff wanted to be sensitive to the Yatim family and had considered changing the serial number on the streetcar. The number 4058 is visible in a witness video of the incident when Mr. Yatim was fired at nine times and then tasered by police officers.

"It was a possible consideration to be sensitive to the family," said Mr. Ross. "If that's what they sought, then that is something we could consider doing, but in the end, we're not going to."

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The decision not to change the serial number came after Andy Byford, the TTC's chief executive officer, spoke with a representative of the family Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Ross said he could not elaborate on the conversation out of respect for the Yatim family's desire for privacy.

The family released a statement last week asking the public to give them time and privacy to grieve the loss of their son and brother.

Mr. Yatim, 18, died in hospital shortly after the shooting on July 27. The shooting happened after passengers on the westbound Dundas streetcar reported that Mr. Yatim had pulled out a three-inch knife on the vehicle near Trinity Bellwoods Park. There was no one else on the streetcar with Mr. Yatim when police fired at him from the outside, as all the passengers and the driver had already fled the vehicle unharmed.

The streetcar in question has been out of commission since July 30 pending a discussion between the TTC and the Yatim family. It was in service for a day and a half after Mr. Yatim's death before TTC staff ordered that it be removed.

The incident has raised questions about excessive use of force by police, and whether officers are adequately trained to de-escalate conflicts, especially when dealing with disturbed individuals. Ontario's government watchdog announced last week that it was reviewing guidelines to assess what direction police should receive from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services in light of the shooting. André Marin, the Ontario ombudsman, said that a decision on whether to proceed with an investigation will be announced Thursday.

The Special Investigations Unit, a provincial agency that probes civilian deaths involving police officers, has identified Constable James Forcillo as a subject officer in their investigation into the streetcar shooting. Const. Forcillo has been suspended with pay from the Toronto Police Service since the shooting happened.

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