Brandon was shot and killed not far from his hometown of Maniwaki, which has a population of about 4,000 people and is adjacent to the Anishinabeg (Algonquin) community of Kitigan Zibi, about 300 kilometres northwest of Montreal. His death went almost completely unnoticed in the media. Yet, a 17-year-old adolescent killed by the police in the context of a banal driving violation is newsworthy, particularly in light of the the fact that more than 50 people, most of whom were marginalized, have been killed in police operations in Quebec (and over 150 in Canada) since 2005.
Despite the many upstanding, ethical police officers out there, the force has given the public numerous reasons to question its conduct. There have been a number of high profile cases of alleged police brutality in Canada and Quebec, including the 2010 G-20 Toronto summit protests, the 2012 Quebec student protests, and the Robert Dziekanski taser incident.
While there is no evidence that Sammy Yatim had a mental illness, his shooting has reminded everyone of all those with mental illness who have been shot by police.The Mental Health Commission of Canada could make a significant contribution to reducing these tragedies by funding specialized police/psychiatry units and having them operate for longer periods of time.
Eighteen-year-old Sammy Yatim was shot nine times, Tasered, and killed by Toronto police early Saturday morning. It is unlikely that many details will emerge any time soon. And if history is an indicator, many of the details may never be known, unless there is a public inquiry. But while members of the police are required, by law, to co-operate with the SIU investigation, there are a great many obstacles that are likely to hamper the SIU's work. Here are some.