Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Now Sammy Yatim's Friend Has Been Killed By The Police

I have long held to the belief that had there been no video evidence, there would have been no charges, no trial and certainly no conviction of James Forcillo in the police murder of Sammy Yatim. The well-know blue line would have made sure of that. I cannot help but wonder if we will see that alternative reality play out in the latest Toronto police killing, this one, eerily, of Sammy Yatim's friend, Alex Wettlaufer.

While it is still very early in the investigation, and I am very mindful of the pitfalls of jumping to conclusions, what I have read and seen thus far is not encouraging, and I am left with a sadness over the loss of another young person, this one but 21 years old. Here is what we know so far:
The incident began just after 11:15 p.m. Sunday, when officers arrived at the Leslie subway station at Leslie St. and Sheppard Ave. E. to investigate reports of a fight between two men. Toronto police tweeted late Sunday that one of them had a gun.

Investigators say one of the men fled to the nearby park, where there was a confrontation with Toronto police, including members of the Emergency Task Force, that resulted in police fatally shooting Wettlaufer. At 11:34 p.m., paramedics were called to the scene. They transported the man to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, where he was pronounced dead.

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which probes incidents of death, serious injury and allegations of sexual assault involving police, was called in early Monday morning to investigate. SIU spokeswoman Jasbir Dhillon said the probe is still in the early stages, and investigators cannot yet say if Wettlaufer was carrying a gun.

It’s part of the investigation, whether or not he was carrying a weapon,” she said.
That last line, to which I have added emphasis, raises questions. In most early investigations, whether a weapon was found is part of the basic information released to the public; given the egregious incompetence of the SIU, about which I have written many times, I have no confidence the truth will necessarily emerge.

As well, if police insist that he had a gun, will forensics tests be done to look for gunpowder residue to determine if it had been fired? If none is found, or he did not have a gun, how will the police explain killing him? Will we be given the kind of contemptuous lie that likely would have been given about Sammy Yatim had there been no video evidence, i.e., that he was lunging at police, menacing them in such a way that they had no choice? If so, I think we would be fools to uncritically accept such self-serving pap.

Perhaps some truth can be found in the news reports carried on local television.

In this first video, you will hear the shots fired by the police. There is no indication that they had been fired upon:

Here is Alex's sister:

Other family members are also speaking out:

Given the contempt for transparency that many police services seem to be showing these days, we, the public, have every right to be asking hard questions and demanding answers and accountability. I make no apologies for my own cynicism and suspicions.

For a parting context, perhaps the final word for today should be given to Lilieth Rankine, a neighbour who knows the family well:
“He’s a good kid, went to school, finished school,” she said. “I don’t get it . . . What happened? Can you imagine what the community is going through?”


  1. Replies
    1. All we can do is keep asking the right questions and demanding honest answers, Pamela.

  2. The cops better get real clean on this very fast. It sounds like there was a barrage, suggesting more than one officer fired.

    1. I had the same impression, Mound. Reports say three shots were fired, and it appears they all came from the police.