TORONTO – A march to protest the shooting death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim — that was caught on video — drew hundreds Monday, calling for justice and an end to police violence.
The mother and sister of Yatim were among a crowd of protesters that stretched more than a block as marchers left Yonge-Dundas Square for the west-end intersection where Yatim was killed early Saturday morning following an altercation with police.
Yatim’s mother clutched her daughter and cried.
The shooting has sparked a flood of anger at Toronto police, who have suspended an officer involved.
The crowd chanted “Shame!” and “Justice for Sammy!” Marchers briefly stopped outside 14 Division, venting at the force’s handling of the fatal shooting.
“I feel like he was a good kid,” said a friend of Yatim. “He was very young. Not only the way that he went out but the fact that he’s not here anymore is just so devastating. He had so much to offer to this world.”
“It’s just an injustice.”
Ontario’s police watchdog is probing the incident, which was captured on video and posted on YouTube.
It investigates all cases involving police where there has been a death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.
The Special Investigations Unit said Yatim died from multiple gunshot wounds. A Taser was later used on the 18-year-old, according to the agency.
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.
Police Chief Bill Blair said the force will conduct a separate probe.
Blair told reporters Monday he understood the public had many questions about police conduct.
“I recognize that there is a need for answers and that the public quite rightfully expects that the matter will be thoroughly investigated. I want to assure you all that this will be done,” he said.
“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. This will be done.”
An officer involved in the shooting was suspended with pay, as is mandatory in the province, the Toronto Police Association said.
A family friend said he is shocked by the deadly shooting of Yatim.
“What happened is a tragedy. I’m stunned to see that thing happened in Toronto,” he said.
“I don’t blame the police officer. I blame the people who trained them to become police officers.”
“I don’t want my daughter or somebody’s kid to go through what Sammy went through. He suffered,” he said, referring to the shooting death.
A makeshift memorial for Yatim now rests at the site of the shooting.