Jul 23, 2014

By Jane Brown

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It’s been nearly a year since 18 year old Sammy Yatim was shot and killed by police while on a TTC streetcar.  Now it has come to light, family members of the shooting victim have filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, the Toronto Police Board and Constable James Forcillo, who is facing a second degree murder charge in Yatim’s death.  A Toronto Star report says that Yatim’s mother and sister filed the lawsuit in February.  It alleges Toronto Police showed “reckless disregard” for the life of 18 year old Sammy Yatim and used excessive and unreasonable force against a young man suffering an “acute emotional disturbance” on the night of his death.  Yatim’s relatives are suing for damages in excess of $8-million, and claim they are suffering anxiety, depression, and physical and psychological conditions.  No statements of defense have been filed.  Toronto Police spokesman Mark Pugash says it would be inappropriate to comment on the lawsuit in advance of a defense statement.  The allegations have not been proven in court.

Yatim’s death on July 27, 2013 prompted several large public demonstrations and a massive outcry about the Toronto police’s use of force, particularly against the mentally ill and those in emotional distress.  Smartphone video of the incident captured Constable Forcillo firing nine shots at Yatim, striking him eight times.  A second, unnamed officer then boarded the streetcar and tasered Yatim, who lay collapsed at the front doors.

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