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Sammy Yatim killing: More officers should wear cameras, report says

07/24/2014 09:31 EDT | Updated 09/23/2014 05:59 EDT
Front-line police officers who carry stun guns and deal with people in crisis should also be equipped with body-mounted cameras, according to a report into police use of force that was spurred by last year's fatal shooting of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim aboard a Toronto streetcar.

Expanded use of cameras is one of 84 recommendations in a report by former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci that was released Thursday.

The report, which focuses on how police deal with emotionally disturbed and/or mentally disturbed individuals, a group Iacobucci calls "people in crisis," also recommends:

- Mandatory notifications of police Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams for all calls involving people in crisis.

- A requirement that new constables complete a mental-health first aid course.

- Screening for new police recruits, using psychologists to see how they would interact with people in crisis.

- A revision of the police use-of-force model, emphasizing that lethal force should always be a last resort.

- A pilot project aimed at expanding use of Tasers, also known as stun guns, to front-line officers.

"People in crisis are our brothers, sisters, parents and children," said  Iacobucci Thursday. "They are not apart from us, they are part of us."

Yatim was shot by police on July 27, 2013, as he stood aboard the empty streetcar.

The shooting, which was captured on videos widely circulated online, raised outrage and prompted calls for change in how police handle confrontations with individuals who are emotionally disturbed.

Nine shots could be heard on the videos following police shouts for Yatim to drop a small fold-up knife he was carrying. The final six shots appeared to come after Yatim had already fallen backwards, to the floor of the streetcar.

Among other areas, the report analyzes ways of reducing the use of lethal force by police — especially when it comes to responding to calls involving people with emotional or mental difficulties that may require urgent care or put themselves or others at risk.

Constable faces 2nd-degree murder charge

The provincial Police Services Act required police Chief Bill Blair to do a review.

In a rare such prosecution, Const. James Forcillo was also charged with second-degree murder.

In a lawsuit filed with Ontario Superior Court last October, Yatim's mother and sister are seeking more than $7 million from Forcillo, the police services board and two other officers.

According to the lawsuit — which is not proven and to which no defence has been filed — Forcillo fired at Yatim in the early hours of that summer day last year. At the time, Yatim was alone on the streetcar, which was surrounded by about 20 officers.

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