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The use of force against citizens in distress on public roads was at the center of the pleadings in Toronto.

A mental health approach suggested in the police

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Sammy Yatim was killed by Toronto police in 2013 when he was in crisis on a city streetcar.

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

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The jury at the coroner's inquest into the death of Sammy Yatim recommends that the province ensure that members of police forces in Ontario are all well trained in mental health to avoid the use of force deadly, when they face citizens in psychological distress. The 18-year-old was killed by a police officer after brandishing a knife on a Toronto streetcar in 2013.

The jurors' recommendations essentially resemble the 53 joint proposals that the 11 parties involved in this investigation suggested to them on Tuesday before they entered into their deliberations. The jury also formulated 10 others of its own.

The five jurors also unsurprisingly reached a verdict of homicide, since young Sammy died from injuries that were not accidental.

Jury recommends Ontario Police Services Boards institutionalize community engagement in areas of mental health thanks to the creation of a mental health advisory committee modeled on that of the Toronto Police Services Commission.

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This approach would be community-based in that it would involve organizations and professionals in the mental health and addiction field, including people living with mental problems.

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A friend of Sammy Yatim holds his photograph outside the courthouse during the trial of James Forcillo.

These committees should adequately reflect the diversity of the community and address the intersectionality of unconscious or unconscious bias, mental health and addiction.

A similar committee was already created in 2019 in Toronto. Its purpose is to review, advise and make recommendations to the Commission on an annual basis regarding the city's police strategy regarding mental health.

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The recommendations are addressed to the Toronto Police, but also to other police services in the province and to police services boards in Ontario, the Solicitor General of Ontario and the Ontario Police College.

Police officers should also receive mental health first aid training to prepare for any eventuality in the field.

The coroner's investigation showed that Officer James Forcillo did not ;had no such training when he faced Sammy Yatim.

The jury then suggests that police services make a peer intervention program mandatory or create one where it does not exist.

This is training that allows a police officer to intervene with a colleague who is holding a citizen in distress at gunpoint to dissuade him from shooting.< /p>

This program should reassure police officers that they do not incur any disciplinary action from their employer for having acted in this way.

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Sammy Yatim was killed on the night of July 27, 2013 when he showed his penis to distraught female passengers and brandished a knife on this city tram.

The investigation revealed that no one had intervened with James Forcillo to dissuade him from opening fire on Sammy Yatim.

The jury calls on the Ministry of the Solicitor General to issue a directive to protect whistleblowers in Ontario police forces.

Any police officer who denounces another for inappropriate use of force or who reports any misconduct to his superiors would be so protected against all reprisals.

The jury recommends that the ethics department in police forces ensures that someone other than an internal investigator be available to examine the conduct of an officer who used force on a public highway.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">In Ontario, drawing your weapon in public, even without shooting, is considered a use of force.

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Sammy Yatim in the last minutes of his life in the tram that the driver, Chad Seymour, had evacuated before the police arrived.

The investigation showed that James Forcillo had drawn his weapon five times, in the space of eight months, a year before the teenager's death.

Mr. Forcillo testified that no one followed up when an internal investigation was opened into his behavior.

The jury also suggests providing intervention cameras to front-line agents. The recordings would be systematically viewed when an officer is the subject of an internal or external complaint about the use of force.

It also suggests reviewing the professional practices and standards of police services to see if there is reason to periodically monitor the risk posed by a police officer on public roads.

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Image taken from the surveillance video of the streetcar Sammy Yatim was on before being shot and killed by Officer James Forcillo, who holds him at gunpoint at the foot of the stairs.

The jury recommends reviewing the role of its psychologists in police forces so that they can participate more fully in the early intervention program with an officer who is the subject of an investigation for use of force .

He also invites police services to tighten hiring criteria and identify weaknesses among recruits and the risks they could represent during their probationary period and to remedy them.

Conversely, agents who demonstrate excellent empathy and retention skills their composure should act as mentors.

The jury suggests the creation of a national center of ;#x27;excellence in police training to enhance the teaching and training of police officers in the country with the participation of the academic community.

It further proposes to the Ontario Police College to extend the current training by 12 weeks and to review its educational program periodically to update it up to date.

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James Forcillo was sentenced to 6 years and a half in prison following his criminal trial in 2016 for attempted murder before being dismissed from his service.

The jury recommends incorporating, in the training of police officers, scenarios that are inspired by reality alongside their training on the de-escalation of violence, including intervention among peers and measures against unconscious bias.

The investigation showed that the similar scenario The incident that happened on the streetcar on the night of July 26, 2013 is still not taught in police academies or within the Toronto Police Service.

The jury proposes that the province create or facilitate access to financial and psychological services for the families of people who are killed or injured by a police officer in the exercise of his duties.

The investigation showed that the Yatim family had been left behind and that the province had not helped them in 10 years of overcoming his trauma.

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Sahar Bahadi and her daughter Sara Ann said at the start of the hearings that they hoped the jury's recommendations would prevent further tragedies.

In a statement, Sahar Bahadi's lawyer, Sammy's mother, Asha James, said Thursday evening that the young man's death had had a huge impact on his mother, sister and his father.

The jury finally suggests that police forces in the province consider adopting an approach concerning apologies, regrets and recognition of the loss of a loved one after a critical intervention between an agent and a citizen, taking into account, however, the legal considerations that such an approach implies.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116