TORONTO – The family of an 18-year-old who died after being shot by Toronto police on a TTC streetcar says it is a “tragedy for all involved” and said they do not blame the entire force for the fatal shooting.
In a statement read by a friend outside the family’s home, the family of Sammy Yatim thanked Toronto police Chief Bill Blair for reaching out and promising a review.
“We expect that this matter will be investigated with the fullest measure of the law, so that incidents like this can be better managed and de-escalated before such extreme use of force is ever exercised again,” the family said.
- Watch: Sammy Yatim’s family releases statement
- Watch: Yatim family says they hold no ill will towards police
“We want to be clear that we do not hold any ill will against the thousands of police officers who work to protect us each day. This is a tragedy for all involved.”
Yatim was shot to death early Saturday morning aboard a TTC streetcar on Dundas Street West near Bellwoods Avenue. A bystander told CityNews that Yatim was armed with a knife and police ordered him to drop it while pointing their guns at him.
The province’s police watchdog is investigating.
Nine shots can be heard on bystander video, first three shots in succession then six more after a pause of about six seconds. Yatim suffered multiple gunshot wounds, the SIU said. A Taser was later used, according to the agency.
The SIU has designated one subject officer and 22 witness officers.
The officer was identified late Tuesday as Const. James Forcillo by his lawyer Peter Brauti, according to a CityNews report.
Forcillo was suspended with pay in accordance with provincial rules.
Brauti said he is reviewing the case and has not yet decided whether to recommend Forcillo submit to an SIU interview.
In addition to the SIU investigation, Blair has said his office will do a review.
The family said they are “living a nightmare we can’t seem to wake up from.”
“The next few months will be very trying for us as our family adjusts to life without Sammy and wades through all the details and decisions that led to this senseless tragedy,” the family said.
In the statement, the family said the outpouring of support from Toronto and Canada is “tremendous.”
“Thank you to all who have reached out to us and helped us shoulder this pain,” they said.
Mayor Rob Ford addressed the deadly shooting for the first time Tuesday, saying it was too soon to draw any conclusions.
“I’m very sorry for what happened,” Ford said. “It’s unfortunate, it’s sad, and my heart goes out to the family, but none of us know the facts.”
Another protest is being planned for Aug. 13 — the next scheduled Police Services Board meeting.
“Join us as we mourn the death of Sammy Yatim, Toronto’s latest victim of police brutality, and fight for justice for all victims of police violence and murder,” the organizers wrote on the Facebook event.
“The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has shown a clear inability to police the police, leaving cops in Toronto with a sense that they can get away with murder, and leaving us with no hope for accountability from the authorities.”
Friends told the Toronto Star that Yatim had left home last month after clashing with his father over the teen’s pot use and lack of a job.
He was apparently staying with a friend’s family and while some said he was trying to get his life on track and planned to take health care management at George Brown College in the fall, others claimed he had fallen in with a bad crowd and always carried a knife.
According to CityNews, a memorial for Yatim is set for Wednesday.