Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sammy Yatim: One More Word

While I can't promise this will be my last post on Sammy Yatim, I do want to direct you to Rosie DiManno's column and a few comments from The Star's readers that remind us of the real nature of this tragedy.

Writes DiManno:

I am sickened by the content of civilian-shot videos which captured that episode in and around the 505 streetcar. Notice that officers on the scene never established a perimeter — cars continuing to drive by, curious pedestrians approaching closely.

I am sickened that a situation so obviously limited in threat, so prime for sensible management and a peaceful outcome, erupted in lethal gunfire by police.

I am sickened that, rather than de-escalate the situation, rather than wait for the SWAT team or a cop expert in negotiating stand-offs, those present — one present — went feverishly ballistic.

I am sickened that a teenager with a small knife, who’d done nothing more hostile than shout profanities, was felled by a hail of bullets.

You can read full piece here.

The letters:

I was a member of the OPP for 34 years and watched the tactics utilized by the Toronto police in “disarming” this individual. It was an execution!

There wasn’t any threat to anyone when he was alone in the bus. Surely, the officers could have backed off, waited for a police/counseling team to intervene and get him some help.

Instead, one more person dead, at the hands of a trigger happy cop, who now has to live with what he did.

Barry Ruhl, Southampton

I have always been a keen supporter of the Toronto police as I believe are most Torontonians. But these are not the same officers I grew up with in decades past. They are not nearly as approachable, friendly or helpful as their predecessors of past years. I hate to use the word “arrogant” but unfortunately this is what I feel.

Having travelled abroad and with particular to England, I can tell you there is a palpable difference in almost every aspect of how the police interact with the public. Perhaps the investigation of this shooting should be looking at police attitude and interaction with the public.

There is a disconnect and I am sure this is partially responsible for this event and similar events of recent years.

Ian Rattner, North York

There is additional converage to be found on The Star's website, and while there, be sure to check out Joe Fiorito's column that suggests a pattern of police shootings, many of which were indeed questionable.


  1. It seems like we, the public, are what the police here think of when they use the words "public enemy" nowadays.

    1. To paraphrase Maslow, Dan, perhaps when you are a gun, evryone else is a target.

  2. Sammy...
    I've wanted die...Only I was to scared to do it myself.
    I pushed everyone around me to edge, silently hoping they would save me.
    That night on the bus, those girls most likely ridiculed you, pushed you felt you have had enough. New to Toronto, trying to fit in, left home...and nowhere to go. I know what it's like...No one understood...You allowed everyone off the bus. If you wanted to hurt someone, you had plenty did not. You wanted to say your're angry, and had no other means of expressing, I know...I've hurt too.
    When the police arrived and you yelled obcenties, I picture myself. "what are you going to do!?" It always escalates. In my past at least. And then I am left feeling..."What have I done" It's as if I black out in rage. I still feel that way when an officer is in my rear view. I have done no wrong, yet feel complete anxiety. That night when confronted by so many officers, you realize you have really done it this time. You know your in trouble and your scared. I know. I know, because I could never control my anger. I know, because at that moment, you come slowly come back to reality.

    As I watched you back up, move forward, and unsure of what do. It all seems cloudy. Your still angry, and hoping the other party realizes, I know you new they would never hurt you. You know they were going to calm you. And faced with guns pointed at me, I know I would need somebody to whisper it's okay. You were waiting for that moment, the moment when you could release the knife, as that was your only armour. I could only imagine the thoughts going through your mind. I can remember at my darkest moments of rage, coming back to reality only once I had pushed it too far, I remember thinking..."Gawd...what have I done".

    Eighteen is such a young age, and so very tough. So much pain, learning love, life, and mean kids. I am always amazed at the students who say" Hey he went to my school" and shed tears, and the ones who always thought he was such a nice guy, yet probably never spoke to him as he passed in the hall. They gather at the funeral and form huddles of tears, yet while alive he was alone.

    We all suffer from mental health, EACH AND EVERY HUMAN.

    It's how we deal with it that seperates us from a patient. Some report it, some deal with it, some ignore it, some medicate it. We all have issues in our lives.

    It's how each individual handles their stress or depression. I hope other teens feeling left with no other options are confronted with options and not left with death. RIP Sammy.

    1. Thank you, Anon, for a very powerful post. Because it is so powerful, I am taking the liberty of featuring it as a guest commnetary on my next entry. Once more, thank you for sharing your insights.