Tuesday, June 09, 2020
If Sammy Yatim's Meltdown Happened Today Would He Still Be Alive?
The video of Toronto cop, James Forcillo, executing a young man on a Toronto street car is one of those horrible events that, once seen, never quite goes away.
There is Yatim, the sole occupant of the street car, standing at the front stairwell. At a considerable and definitely safe distance away stands Yatim's killer, constable James Forcillo.
There are cops everywhere, plenty more arriving as Forcillo draws a bead on Yatim, firing a three round volley into the young man, dropping him where he stood. Then, as his fellow officers simply stand there, Forcillo waits another five or six seconds before emptying his pistol, another six rounds, into the young man laying on the bus floor.
Here's what the cops knew. Yatim had brandished a pocket knife on the street car. The driver pulled to the curb. The panicked passengers fled. Yatim didn't harm any of them. The driver got out but then reboarded to grab some of his stuff. Like the others, he was unharmed.
The rest is all on video taken by bystanders with their smartphones. Yatim stands alone on the street car, incapable of harming anyone with his pocketknife. The cops, including Forcillo, gather.
What if Forcillo's fellow cops had done the right thing? What if they had intervened, if not at the outset then after Yatim was downed by Forcillo's first three-round salvo? What if they had said, "enough, no more"?
What if those cops had done the right thing? Yatim might have still died of his initial wounds. We don't know. However that possibility was effectively foreclosed when Forcillo's fellow officers chose not to intervene. They allowed Forcillo to pump another six rounds into Sammy Yatim's body. Six rounds.
On this, the day that George Floyd is to be interred, it's right that Canadians should ask, "what if?"