Toronto policeman suspended after shooting of teenager

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 August, 2013, 2:17am


A Toronto police officer was suspended with pay after he shot dead a young man wielding a knife in an empty tram, police said, as hundreds of people in Canada's largest city protested against the shooting that was caught on video and posted on YouTube.

Some protesters called it unnecessary police force. Investigators were looking into the circumstances surrounding the shooting, the city's police chief said on Monday.

The video shows 18-year-old Sammy Yatim holding a knife inside the tram early on Saturday, with police outside. Yatim goads police while officers yell, "Drop your knife!" Shortly after, three shots are fired. After a pause, six more shots are fired. A taser is later used on Yatim.

Ontario's Special Investigations Unit, which is charged with carrying out independent investigations of police shootings, was examining the shooting. The unit said Yatim died from multiple gunshot wounds.

Mark Mendelson, a former Toronto police detective, said investigators have the benefit of the video, which "doesn't lie". "If you look at it on its face value at this point, it's not hard to come to the conclusion that excessive force was used," Mendelson said.

Hundreds, including Yatim's mother and sister, took part in a march Monday evening that called for justice for Yatim.

Jim Yatim, the victim's uncle, said Sammy was born to Canadian parents in Syria and came to live with his father in Canada five years ago. He said nobody had anything negative to say about his character.

Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack said the officer involved in the shooting was devastated.