Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Those Critical Five Seconds in the Life and Death of Sammy Yatim

Stills taken from security camera video of the Sammy Yatim execution, published by National Post, may be the most important evidence of all.   Better yet, Lorne has the video itself posted at Politics & Its Discontents.   You can see that Yatin indeed goes down and stays down, his body flinching from successive gunshots.

These images reveal that the young man was felled by the very first round of nine shots fired by the Toronto police gunman.  Yatim was hit, he slumped to his knees and fell backwards.

Wounded and dropped to his knees, what possible threat could Yatim have posed, even in the feverish mind of the Toronto gunman?

You've dropped the kid with one round.  You're still a safe distance from the young man, now an undoubtedly, very safe distance.  For some reason you fire twice more.

Here's where it gets tricky for Toronto constable James Forcillo.  In the span of those first two seconds, Forcillo unleashes three rounds at Yatim, at least one of which hits and takes him down.   Then there's an interval of nearly five seconds before Forcillo resumes firing.  Six more rounds follow in the next six seconds.   Thirteen seconds in all, nine rounds.

The shooting in those first two seconds - the first three rounds - can arguably be said to be a different event from what followed.  The two events were broken by that five second pause.

How Forcillo is judged for those first three rounds is one thing.  The final six shots are a different matter.

Forcillo had five seconds to re-evaluate the situation.   He had five seconds to observe the scene, to discern Yatim was down, to re-evaluate the obviously diminished threat Yatim posed to anyone.

Forcillo's actions in emptying the rest of his clip into Yatim have to be weighed not on whatever happened before the first three shots but after, during those five seconds.

The cops will probably try to spin the execution based on those first three shots.   They'll try to wrap this all up into that first salvo.  They almost certainly will not treat this as two distinct situations, the first three and then the final six shots.   And, if they do, you know that their only concern is covering their asses.

Those critical five seconds cannot be wiped away.  It's within that pause that what follows has to be assessed and, for Forcillo, that is a huge problem.

Police should not be afraid of criminals but society should not have to fear their police.


Dana said...

A dead guy can't show up in a courtroom and sway a jury.

Probably a whole hour on that subject during the 3 day training course for the Toronto Police.

I think it might be time to start putting up the old 60s poster.$T2eC16hHJHwE9n8ikMcqBRRr8O3)nw~~60_57.JPG

thwap said...

Deliberate, cold-blooded murder.

The Mound of Sound said...

I tend to agree, Thwap - second-degree murder. Those five seconds create premeditation, at least in my opinion. The force used was deliberate, calculated, unhurried, unreasonable, unnecessary and foreseeably lethal. Surely this is beyond manslaughter.

Lorne said...

There is no question that, unlike the whitewashes of the past over questionalbe police shootings, Mound, a real reckoning of accounts is demanded in this situation. All of the video evidence is far too compelling to ignore.

kootcoot said...

I'm confident that the officer will at most suffer a paid vacation ala Monty - the leader of the pack that tasered the Polish arrival at YVR and then went on to drunkenly run over and kill a motorcyclist.

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