Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

The use of force against citizens in distress on public roads is at the center of the coroner's inquest in Toronto.

The officer who targeted Sammy Yatim with his Taser defends himself

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Sammy Yatim came to Canada from Syria with his family, three years before his death, because his parents wanted him to have a better education.

  • Jean-Philippe Nadeau (View profile)Jean-Philippe Nadeau

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Moment full of frustration at the coroner's inquest into the death of Sammy Yatim in Toronto: the police officer who used his taser on the 18-year-old student denies having acted wrongly when he discharged it on the victim who was lying on the ground. Sammy Yatim was killed by police while flashing his penis and brandishing a knife on a city tram in 2013.

Sergeant Dusan Pravica tells the coroner's jury that he was the only one authorized to use a taser in 2013 in the group of police officers who responded to an emergency call.

Sgt Pravica explains that these weapons were reserved for supervisors and never for front line officers.

I heard the dispatcher in my patrol car say that someone armed with a knife was on the streetcar on Dundas Street West, he remembers.

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He adds that downtown was crowded that evening because of several concerts in the metropolis and a baseball game at the Sky Dome.

I arrived at the scene after several detours, he continues, his gaze shifting [he never looked at the camera during the hearing virtual, Editor's note].

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Sammy Yatim was killed on the night of July 26 to 27, 2013 in this Toronto streetcar, which had been previously evacuated by the driver.

Sgt Pravica explains that 4 or 5 agents were already grouped in a semi-circle at the foot of the train in front of the front door and that Sammy Yatim was already on the ground.

He was lying at the top of the stairs, a penknife in his hand, but my colleagues were still holding him at gunpoint outside, he said.

However, he no longer remembers whether agent James Forcillo told him that Sammy Yatim had been shot or whether he himself had opened fire on the young man with his gun.

He claims that he did not hear any gunshots when he got out of his vehicle to run to the tram stopped on the rails.

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Sammy Yatim, a knife in his hand, a few minutes before his death.

The video of the events shows that Sammy Yatim was already on the floor of the train and that he had been shot by Agent Forcillo.

The coroner presiding over the hearings, Dr David Cameron, refused to re-introduce her to the jury at the request of the victim's father's lawyer, Nabil Yatim.

Sgt Pravica explains that he had to neutralize the young man even if he had already been shot, because he was still holding his penknife in his hand when x27;he got on board.

I only saw a single bullet coming halfway out of his body, but no trace of blood, he emphasizes, specifying that the knife was still pointed in his direction.

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Image from a surveillance video of the tram in which Sammy Yatim was before being shot dead by the police

He emphasizes that he then ordered Sammy Yatim twice to drop his weapon, but that the young man did not respond to him.

He states that he then discharged his taser towards the student before kicking the student's hand 5 seconds later to knock the knife away.

He was still conscious and I only followed the directive, which justified the use of an electric gun in this type of situation to avert any threat, he said, adding that two police officers then boarded to examine the victim before giving him first aid.

The sergeant's cross-examination was interrupted early on, when Mr. Yatim's lawyer, Ed Upenieks, reminded him that he had failed in his duty to assess the situation by entering the train as required by protocol.

Prosecution lawyer Peter Napier formally objected to such a question because it fell outside the scope of the investigation, which had been limited last year. last.

Dr Cameron asked the witness and the 5 jurors to leave, to discuss the tendentious assertion of Me Upenieks with the lawyers of the other parties in this investigation [as in criminal trials, the press is not authorized to report what was said during these discussions, Editor's note].

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Former police officer James Forcillo, who was fired from his police department, was sentenced to six years in prison in 2016 for attempted murder.

Upon his return to the virtual courtroom, Sgt Pravica said he quickly assessed the situation before firing his taser.

Visibly upset, Mr. Upenieks nevertheless reminded him that he had said during the criminal trial of Agent Forcillo that' he didn't do it because he had to act quickly and eliminate any threat.

I knew he had been shot, but I didn't know how many times, he defends himself, specifying that he had been shocked to learn of Officer Forcillo's behavior while talking with colleagues at the police station.

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A friend of Sammy Yatim holds his photograph outside the courthouse, during the trial of James Forcillo.< /p>

Anna Wilson, the lawyer for the group Empowerment Council, which advocates for people with mental health problems, explains to him that Sammy Yatim did not refuse to obey [you] because he was to die.

I didn't know he was dying, ma'am, he replied.

The criminal trial of James Forcillo revealed that he had opened fire 9 times on the student.

He was acquitted of a principal charge of unpremeditated murder for the first three shots, but found guilty of attempted murder for the last six shots against the victim who was lying on the ground.

In 2019, almost six years after the tragedy, the charge of professional misconduct that the Toronto police had filed against Sgt Pravica was dropped at the continuation of negotiations behind closed doors.

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