Toronto police chief 'not privy to' any report that 8 bullets struck Sammy Yatim
Published Friday, August 23, 2013 12:16PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, August 24, 2013 7:44PM EDT
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said he has not seen any official report suggesting that streetcar shooting victim Sammy Yatim was hit by eight bullets.
Blair told reporters Friday that, “I have not been privy to, or shown any report.
“The investigation and all of that evidence is entirely the purview of the SIU and I don’t know the source of that report. Only the SIU can comment on that.”
Media reports surfaced Thursday that Yatim was hit by eight bullets in the early morning hours of July 27, when he was shot aboard an empty streetcar while brandishing a knife. The Toronto Sun and the Toronto Star quoted sources saying eight of the nine shots that were fired struck Yatim.
The coroner’s office said Thursday it could only release information about its investigation to family and others involved in the case. However, the Yatim family issued a statement saying they had not seen a copy of the coroner’s report.
"They are upset and most distressed by this news as none of this information had been previously disclosed to the family and they are unclear about how this information has come to light, or if there is any truth to it," said the statement released Thursday by a family spokesperson.
"They hope to get more information to clarify what is being reported."
Surveillance and cellphone videos of the incident that were posted to YouTube show police telling Yatim, who is pacing back and forth at the front of the streetcar, to “drop the knife.” Moments later, nine shots ring out. Yatim was also Tasered.
Const. James Forcillo, a six-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service, is charged with second-degree murder in the case. He was released on $510,000 bail on Tuesday afternoon after turning himself in earlier in the day.
Blair was also asked by reporters Friday whether Forcillo received preferential treatment during his bail proceedings, as it is rare for an accused to turn himself in, make his first court appearance and then be granted bail all on the same day.
Blair repeated comments made Tuesday by defence counsel Peter Brauti, who said he and Crown attorneys worked into the wee hours that day to hammer out terms of Forcillo’s bail.
“The police are not involved in that. I have great confidence in our Crown attorneys. They have a legal responsibility as well. They did their job,” Blair said.
“I saw nothing in that process that I would have characterized as special treatment. I think there was tremendous amount of work that was put in by both the Crown and the defence lawyer to achieve an outcome on this as expeditiously as possible.”
Forcillo’s next court appearance has been scheduled for Sept. 30.
Meanwhile, Blair has asked retired justice Dennis O’Connor to lead a review of his force’s procedures, training and equipment for use-of-force situations, as well as how his officers are trained to deal with mentally ill citizens.
The Toronto Police Professional Standards Branch is also reviewing the conduct of all officers who were at the scene of the streetcar shooting, and will issue a report to the Police Services Board.
Ontario’s ombudsman has also launched an investigation into provincial guidelines for officers in use-of-force situations.