The Toronto police shot Sammy Yatim nine times. Eight bullets struck him. The barrage of gun fire took 15 seconds at the front entrance of a TTC street car. All for a kid who had just turned 18 years old, holding a knife barely an inch.
After they shot him to death — because this isn’t a video game where you get to reset and start over — they tazed him.
This knowledge of how they not only shot a kid to death by firing nine bullets is hard enough but that they then tazed his body after he died still haunts me.
I wonder if some Toronto Police Officer panicked and realized the police codified use-of-force escalation was breached so tried to cover his tracks.
More painful is the thought that one of the Toronto officers on scene might have been curious as to how the device worked and tazered Yatim’s body just to measure the effects of voltage on the human body.
The absolute worst scenario that comes to my mind (and of course I have no proof of this so it’s all speculation about the worst of our better angels): Was Yatim’s body was tazered just because a police officer could get away with it? This is not about curiosity or experimentation, this is full blown malice — disrespect for life and for death.
There has yet to be legal trouble for the officer, Const. James Forcillo, who tazed Yatim on July 27, 2013. This is just a first in a series of reported about this trial.
Think that this kind of depraved misconduct is a natural born phenomenon? Think again.
Moving south to America, news agencies do extensive coverage of stories of young males being shot and the subsequent riots that ensue, yet seem to forget about the death of women at the hands of the police.
There is a case of Sandra Bland, a 28 year old African-American woman who was found dead in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas, on July 13, 2015.
In January 2015, Bland began posting videos about many subjects, including police brutality against African Americans.
Bland had been pulled over for an alleged minor traffic violation on July 10, 2015, by state trooper Brian Encinia. It seems at that the time of the arrest, she felt the traffic violation was minor. He arrested her following an escalating conflict, during which he alleged that she had assaulted him and which was recorded by his dash camera and by a bystander’s cell phone. The officer was placed on administrative duty for failing to follow proper traffic stop procedures, as the release of the dash camera video supports the claim that normal procedures were not followed by the arresting officer.
We won’t ever truly know how much Encinia knew about Bland’s role as a “Video Angel” who had taped acts of police brutality in the past.
At the hands of the police, the judicial system strikes again. Bland was later found hanging in her cell from an apparent suicide on July 13, 2015; though many in the public are skeptical since she was described as having a zest for life and took her work filming the abuses of police and state troopers seriously.
There is also the case of the missing time between Bland being pulled over for an alleged traffic violation and when her body was found dead in her cell — she was arrested on July 10 and found dead on July 13.
Later on, because of the very small dash camera that recordered evidence, even when the footage from the camera suddenly disappears from view from time to time and it is only really Constable Encinia whose vocals were never interrupted, procedural flaws were found during her arrest.
At the end of it all, the victim who had an altercation with the police wound up dead.
There is an ongoing Free Thought Project that maps out civilian deaths at the hands of the police.
In Canada in 2014, the total number of citizens killed by law enforcement officers was 14 — that is 78 times less people than the U.S.
Much more to come on the case of Sammy Yatim.