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Recently, July 27th we had the tragic shooting in Toronto of a teenager, Sammy Yatim by Constable James Forcillo. Sammy had pulled a pen knife on a Toronto Transit Street car. The passengers and driver fled the scene and police officers surrounded street car. As fate would have it a passerby video taped the tragic event for all of us to see.

Constable Forcillo fired three bullets and after six seconds fired six more into Sammy. We the public have been witness to the shooting many times and may have concluded that Sammy was no threat to the officer while not having knowledge of the angle that the officer faced before firing his weapon.

Police officers are not trained to take away a knife from those who they think pose a threat to others. Rather, they are taught to use deadly force until the threat is gone; shooting at the largest mass, the chest to solve the problem.

Constable Forcillo had graduated from York University with a Psychology degree and had served the Toronto Police force after finishing towards the top of his Ontario Police College class.

We know that Sammy had recently graduated from high school and was not living with his parents. We the public will probably not know the emotional pain that would have a young man pull a knife to frighten passenger and order them not to leave the car. Now that he is deceased nothing bad will be told to blemish his reputation.

However I do not believe that there was just cause to use deadly force and kill. Simply placing a police cruiser in front of the doors of the street car and spending time to talk would have defused the problem.

The SIU which is a completely independent body investigated the shooting and the Crown Attorney has decided to lay second-degree murder charges against Constable Forcillo. Ontario is the only province that has a special branch to investigate whether to lay charges in the event of a police officer’s conduct.

We the public have to remember that there are perceptions and reality to evaluate when faced with the tragic loss of life.

Constable Forcillo is accountable for his actions and deserves his day in court. We the public should not prejudge his guilt or innocence based on a video until we see the facts presented in a court of law.

The sad reality is that two families have been ruined as a result of the shooting. If the courts finds Constable Forcillo had just cause for firing his weapon the public will cry white wash and favoritism for a police officer. If he is found guilty of the charges he will have to serve his time.

The Forcillo and the Yatim family lives have been thrown asunder as a result of a few seconds of violence They will probably never ever be the same.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com