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Family of Sammy Yatim files million-dollar lawsuit against Toronto police

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Photo by krystalline kraus

The family of Sammy Yatim have filed a million-dollar lawsuit against the police in a cynical attempt to stem their tears.

Anyone who knows anything knows that justice cannot be found when the police shove fistfuls of money into the wounded hole of a person, family or community.

It was Yatim's sister and mother (maybe women handle grief better in times like these, unlike the old stereotype of a man's Stiff Upper Lip) who pressed forward though the judicial system.

Their multimillion-dollar lawsuits have been filed against Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, the Toronto Police board, Const. James Forcillo and others whom they allege these officers also acted with "reckless disregard for the life of Sammy."

Torontonians have held several vigils, pray meetings and marches to decry the death of someone so young, as Sammy Yatim was only eighteen years old. As grafitti found around download Toronto that simply reads: "9 shots" shows Torontonian's understanding that nine shots -- eight hitting Yatim's body -- as excessive force causing death. Why Yatim was tazed twice after his death is unknown at this time.

We still don't really know the mental state of the teenager who climbed on a TTC bus on that fateful night and ended up branding a small knife. The rest of the passengers got off the bus without incident (that doesn't mean they escaped any mental wounds from being in that situation).

The Star reported that "Sahar Bahadi, Yatim's mother, and his sister Sarah Yatim filed a lawsuit in February against Toronto Police chief Bill Blair, the Toronto Police Services Board, two unnamed police officers and Const. James Forcillo, who is currently facing a second-degree murder charge for Yatim's death."

Members of Yatim's family have joined together to sue for damages in excess of $8 million CAD and claim they are suffering anxiety, depression, and physical and psychological conditions.

On the other hand, the different police agencies involved have to file a statement of defense. Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash said it would be inappropriate to comment on the lawsuit in advance of a defense statement.

It is also important here that these allegations have not been proven in court.

Eighteen-year-old Sammy Yatim was alone on a street car in the early hours of Saturday, July 27, 2013. As he paced back and forth on the street car, he was holding a small knife. The police and the public allege that he was in crisis at the time, suffering from an alleged mental health breakdown.

With all the other passengers removed from the vehicle, Yatim was alone inside the streetcar while a mass of officers were gathering by the front door. Near the front door, he was shot dead by Toronto police. Shot nine times. Tazered twice after being shot.

Due to the police investigation, eventually Toronto Police Constable James Forcillo was charged in Sammy Yatim's death.

An 18-year-old teen should not be shot nine times by the police.

If I had it my way, I would charge Const. Forcillo with nine first-degree murder charges, not just one.

Reluctantly, news began to trickle out from the Toronto police; most likely pushed by the release of what would become multiple videos of Yatim's interactions with the police early that Saturday morning.

New audio of the shooting has been released to the National Post: "It appears police gave Yatim one stark warning just seconds before they opened fire.

According to newest reports -- and a blow to the family and those who want justice for Sammy Yatim -- Const. James Forcillo was back at work on Thursday, April 24, 2014. He had been originally suspended by Police Chief Bill Blair because of the second-degree murder charge for killing Yatim.

But in April, Const. Forcillo returned to work on restricted administrative duties for Crime Stoppers, according to police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray. The irony is not lost there.

Forcillo is also not permitted to carry a gun, as his bail conditions prevent him from possessing any weapons. He is currently working out of headquarters on College Street.

"He is not working in uniform, he does not have his use-of-force options," Gray said. 

Photo by krystalline kraus 

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