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Activist Communique: It took nine shots for police to kill Sammy Yatim

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It took nine shots to kill Sammy Yatim.

Nine shots in fifteen seconds, fired by Toronto police.

Fired by Toronto police into the body of eighteen year old Yatim as he was alone, holding a small knife, on an empty TTC street car.

Nine Shots in fifteen seconds.

That's barely time to breathe, let alone think.

Bang

Bang

Bang

(pause)

Bang

Bang

Bang

Bang

Bang

Bang

Then comes the sound of a taser, deployed after, not before, as a de-escalation strategy.

That is what I thought the whole point of the police having tasers, to be used as a non-lethal form of compliance; a lower tier on the non-lethal force matrix.

You can watch the whole thing in this video here. But I just want to note, this is not fiction nor TV, you will be watching a young man die. The video is graphic.

On the video, you can hear numerous police officers yelling at Yatim to, “drop the knife…drop the knife…drop the knife,” and then one or more officers open fire on the eighteen year old.

I say one or more police officers because there were so many swarming around the empty street car – except for Yatim; who was nowhere near the officers when they opened fire, for the first three bullets, and the next six, and then the taser.

Teenagers often like to feel celebrity-famous or at least notorious, but I know this is not what Yatim or his family wanted for their boy; for all of Toronto to watch him die at the hands of the Toronto police.

We currently don’t know much about the circumstances of Sammy Yatim’s death and Toronto Police Chief, Bill Blair’s, 11:00 am press conference today didn’t reveal much except to announce that there will be an official inquiry into his death.

Dead at eighteen. On Saturday July 27, 2013, At the hands of Toronto police.

Nine shots in fifteen seconds.

At a Toronto rally on Monday, attended by close to a thousand people, questions hung in the air. Most seemed to center around questions of use of force and why des-escalation strategies were not performed.

Or why Toronto police officers tasered Yatim after shooting him nine times.

Demonstrators shouted "shame" at the police officers who lined the streets during the march, and they had to protect 52 Division when the crowd rushed the doors, demanding answers.

Police Bill Blair’s press conference provided none.

People shouted at officers, “you killed a kid, he was just a kid!” I watched one officer flinch at those words.

Yatim’s mother commented briefly, through tears, “"Feel how afraid he was."  

At around 6:30 pm in the evening, when the march was at the place where Yatim died, his family knelt down on the street and sobbed. We all died a little bit.

Here is what we know about Sammy Yatim, and I must stress we know very little at this point – thank the sky citizens have video cameras or we as the public might not know anything at all.

Yatim was an average eighteen year old kid who went to school and used to work at a McDonalds.

According to the Toronto Star, “Yatim’s father has lived in Canada since 1968, but his wife and children lived in Syria until the parents divorced five years ago, according to the uncle. Sammy and his sister Sarah, now 16, moved to Toronto to live with their father.

“Sammy used to spend the summers with his mom in Syria until the situation became so dangerous,” he said.

One demonstrator who did not give her name chanted, “Sammy survived living in Syria only to die on Toronto’s streets.” Something is very wrong here.

Yatim is not the first person to die from death-by-cop. Most of the families are still waiting for justice. 

More to come.

Another rally has been planned for Tuesday August 13, 2013.

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