'Lethal force' report calls for Toronto police to use body cameras, Tasers
Published Thursday, July 24, 2014 7:10AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 24, 2014 3:21PM EDT
A review of police use of lethal force, sparked by the shooting of a Toronto teen last year, is calling for an increase in use of Tasers and body cameras to record such incidents.
The 413-page report was conducted by retired Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci, who offered 84 recommendations for police, including the use of police psychologists in the recruiting and training phases.
Iacobucci also suggested the establishment of a police and mental health oversight body that would include psychiatric experts, Toronto police, emergency medical services and community mental health organizations.
The report further recommends that police who come into contact with people in crisis wear body cameras, and that the Toronto Police Service consider expanding the use of Tasers to front-line officers to provide an alternative to shooting.
Iacobucci said that the purpose of his report was not to place blame, but to consider how deaths can be prevented in the future.
He called on the chief of police to oversee the implementation of his recommendations.
"This is not a report that will gather dust; this is a report that will gather momentum," Police Chief Bill Blair said at a news conference Thursday morning after hearing details of the report.
In compiling his report, Iacobucci looked at more than 1,200 documents and spoke to 20 officers and four families who lost loved ones in police-involved incidents.
"I think you'd have to be robotic not to be moved by the human tragedy of all this," Iacobucci said.
Toronto police have an average of 20,000 encounters annually with people in crisis, he said, but there are stories behind each case.
"The stories that one learns about are not happy stories. That was an eye-opener to me."
The case that sparked the report
The report was released just days before the one-year anniversary of the death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim.
Yatim was wielding a knife inside an empty streetcar on Dundas Street, near Bellwoods Avenue, on July 27, 2013. Yatim was shot as police stood near the streetcar's open door.
The public outrage that followed Yatim's death prompted Police Chief Bill Blair to request a report taking a broad look at how officers interact with people in crisis.
On Wednesday, it was revealed that Yatim's mother and sister are suing Blair, Const. James Forcillo, two unnamed police officers and the Toronto Police Services Board for damages related to the shooting.
Forcillo, the officer accused of firing the fatal shots, is facing second-degree murder charges in Yatim’s death. He is expected to stand trial next year.