Sammy Yatim: Officer charged with murder only tip of the iceberg

Matthew Coutts
Daily Brew
Sammy Yatim: Officer charged with murder only tip of the iceberg

At some point Tuesday morning, Const. James Forcillo surrendered to his brethren in the Toronto Police Service on the charge of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Sammy Yatim.

Due to threats made against Forcillo, the time and location of that surrender was a closely-guarded secret. He was taken to a downtown courthouse, where he awaits word on whether he will be granted bail.

Yatim was shot while brandishing a knife on board an empty streetcar. No one knows why Yatim pulled a knife and remained on board while passengers fled and police surrounded the vehicle.

[ Related: Toronto cop appears in court on murder charge ]

He suffered multiple gunshot wounds (nine bullets were fired) and shot with a Taser. Some 23 officers were on site, one now stand accused of his murder.

It is a first step, but only that. According to the Canadian Press, the Ontario Special Investigations Unit has charged 10 other officers with murder since its inception in 1990. Of those, only one was convicted. That was overturned on appeal.

Yatim's family released a statement late Monday, stating the charge brought some relief, but that "Sammy's blood" shouldn't go to waste. They want more justice, deeper changes.

“Our family hopes that the SIU investigation will continue looking into the actions of the supervising police officer(s) and the other officers in attendance for their lack of intervention in this tragedy. Over 20 uniformed police officers were present, and no one stepped forward to stop the gun shots or offer any mediation,” the statement reads, per the Toronto Star.

[ More Brew: Const. James Forcillo charged with murder in death of Yatim ]

The SIU hasn't suggested further investigation is coming, neither into the actions of police brass nor those officers who were at the scene.

But Chief Bill Blair has ordered a full review of the force, tasking a former judge with digging through the weeds. And the province's ombudsman has launched its own investigation into how police forces handle tense standoffs. Other groups have demanded other reviews. All eyes are on the Toronto Police Service.

But so much of this reaction came so quickly after Yatim’s shocking death, which quickly spread far and wide thanks to video posted online.

They may be the right first steps, but real justice will come at the end of the staircase. We won't reach that point for some time, and by then much of the public fury with have subsided.

That's when Sammy's blood might truly mean something.

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