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Officer involved in deadly streetcar shooting suspended with pay: TPA

Sammy Yatim, 18, died after a confrontation with Toronto police on a TTC streetcar on Saturday, July 27, 2013.

TORONTO – A Toronto police officer involved in the deadly shooting of an 18-year-old on a TTC streetcar early Saturday has been suspended, the Toronto Police Association says.

The six-year veteran was suspended with pay.

Sammy Yatim was killed early Saturday morning following an altercation with police near Dundas Street West and Bellwoods Avenue, west of Bathurst Street.

A bystander told CityNews that Yatim was armed with a knife and police ordered him to drop it while pointing their guns at him.

The witness said officers fired several rounds and then started performing CPR. He also said two people were taken to hospital in separate ambulances. No passengers were on the streetcar at the time of the shooting.

Yatim was taken to hospital where he died of his injuries.

The province’s Special Investigations Unit is probing the incident, which was captured on video.

The agency investigates all cases involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

In the video, three gunshots are heard at first, followed by six more — nine shots in just 13 seconds.

“The question in my mind comes is ‘do you have to fire those first three shots at that time?” security expert and former police investigator Ross McLeod told CityNews.

WARNING: the video contains graphic content that some may find disturbing.

Watch video

Chief Bill Blair says the force will conduct a thorough investigation of the deadly shooting.

Blair offered his condolences to Yatim’s family and friends, adding that police are reaching out to the family “to express our condolences and sympathy and to offer whatever support we are able to provide.”

“As a father, I can only imagine their terrible grief and their need for answers. We will commit to doing our best to ensure that those answers are provided,” he said.

Blair said he understood the public’s concern.

“I know that people are seeking answers as to what occurred, why it happened and if anything could have been done to prevent the tragic death of this young man. I am also seeking the answers to these important questions,” he said.

Blair said he will a lead a police review into policies, procedures and training.

He said the report will come 30 days after the provincial police watchdog’s findings are submitted.

“The public also has a right to demand that the Toronto Police Service examine the conduct of its officers, to ensure that its training and procedures are both appropriate and followed.”

Ontario’s ombudsman Andre Marin also weighed in on the case, saying his office would be reviewing the incident to determine if it could trigger a wider investigation.

Premier Kathleen Wynne called Yatim’s death and the circumstances around it a “tragic situation.”

“My heart goes out to the family,” said Wynne, adding that she could not comment on the incident while it was under investigation.

Hundreds, including Yatim’s mother and sister, took part in a march Monday in honour of the 18-year-old.

— With files from CityNews and The Canadian Press