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Thursday, August 08, 2013

Ontario Ombudsman Will Put The Toronto Police Into Check Over Shooting Death Of Sammy Yatim

Sammy Yatim: Ontario ombudsman to probe police guidelines in wake of shooting

Andre Marin's announcement comes in the wake of the fatal shooting of a Toronto teenager that's sparked public outrage over police use of force.

Toronto Star - The province's watchdog has decided to launch an investigation into police policies on de-escalating potentially violent situations in the wake of the killing of 18-year-oldSammy Yatim.
André Marin, Ontario's ombudsman said his office will conduct the investigation over the next six to twelve months. It will focus on the direction the Ministry of Community and Correctional Services provides to police on the de-escalation of conflict situations.
“The Ministry has the power to set standards for police training or procedures across the province, for example, as was done in B.C. after the police involved death of Robert Dziekanski.”
Marin said all of the police shootings over the past 20 years are “remarkably similar.”
“It seems to be like Groundhog Day - inquest after inquest, police shooting after police shooting,” he said. “What's happened to these recommendations over the last 20 years? Have they been gathering dust in a bin somewhere?”
Yatim was shot and killed by police nearly two weeks ago. Witnesses said Yatim had a knife and had exposed himself on the streetcar. Police arrived and shot and killed Yatim.
The ombudsman's office will focus on policies set in place by the ministry rather than the event itself.
“The investigation we're going to be conducting has nothing to do with the criminality element or the conduct of the officer under investigation,” said Marin.
The SIU has launched an investigation into the killing. The agency is charged with investigating any incident involving police where there is death, bodily harm or sexual assault.
Marin, former director of the SIU, has investigated the agency on previous occasions, including a 2008 report titled “Oversight unseen” that railed against it for having a “complacent” culture and lacking teeth. A further report in 2011 found the SIU had implemented some recommendations, but that the Ministry of the Attorney General failed to act in granting the agency new powers.
The report also found problems with police co-operation. In a review of the SIU's investigations from 2008 to 2011, Marin found issues with police co-operation in one third of them.
Officers are not required to submit to interviews with the SIU, nor are they required to submit their notes. Officer James Forcillo was suspended from the force with pay in light of the investigation.
Marin said his review will not affect the ongoing SIU investigation but, “If issues arise in that investigation that are relevant to problems that I discussed in my previous reports on the SIU - such as issues with police co-operation, etcetera - I will consider them at the appropriate time.”
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