Streetcar shooting protest march draws hundreds

Hundreds of people turned up to a protest march in downtown Toronto that was organized in response to the death of Sammy Yatim, the 18-year-old teen who was shot by police on a TTC streetcar.

Sammy Yatim's sister organizes march in downtown Toronto after police killing

Protest after Yatim's death

10 years ago
Duration 3:46
Hundreds took part in a protest of Sammy Yatim’s death.

Hundreds of people turned up to a protest march in downtown Toronto that was organized in response to the death of Sammy Yatim, the 18-year-old teen who was shot by police on a TTC streetcar.

CBC News has learned that the Toronto police officer who shot Yatim has been suspended with pay. The shooting remains under investigation by the province’s police watchdog.

The shooting on July 27 shortly after midnight, which was captured in amateur video posted online, has Yatim's family demanding answers.

They've seen the video, which includes the sound of nine gunshots. When the audio is enhanced, a stun gun can also be heard after the shots are fired.

Friends, family and outraged citizens took part in a protest march on Monday evening, following the shooting of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim on a TTC streetcar two days earlier. (Steven D'Souza/CBC)

The people taking part in the protest march gathered at Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square at 5 p.m.

The CBC's Steven D’Souza said the crowd included members of Yatim's family, some of his friends, as well as ordinary people who were outraged by the shooting.

The marchers headed west, with some stopping at Toronto police 52 Division to voice their anger, D'Souza reported.

Chants of "Shame!" and "We want justice!" could be heard as the protesters made their way toward the intersection of Dundas Street West and Bellwoods Avenue, near the spot where Yatim was shot on the streetcar.

The full line of protesters stretched for more than a city block. Some wore T-shirts or carried placards decrying police violence and expressing calls for justice in Yatim's death.

People stopped outside the Toronto Police 52 Division building to express their anger as they protested the shooting death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim. (Steven D'Souza/CBC)

The shooting has left many Torontonians wondering why police fired at Yatim, given that witnesses have said the teenager was armed only with a knife.

"I think something went wrong here, but I guess we're just going to have to wait and see," said Marco Chevalier, who told CBC News earlier in the day that he intended to attend the protest march on Monday evening.

"But in the meantime, this family has lost a son [and] a brother."

Henrik Bechmann, a software developer who lives in Toronto, said the streetcar shooting concerned him, especially in light of prior police-involved shootings in the city.

"The police have a bad attitude, it needs to be fixed," Bechmann told CBC News, as he attended the protest march on Monday night.

Another protester in the crowd, Joseph Nazar, said he has been a close friend of Yatim's family for years.

"An injustice has been committed," he told The Canadian Press, adding that the family is coping the best it can.

"He's dead, [the march] doesn't bring him back," he said. "It's very hard, it's very difficult."

Yatim's younger sister, Sarah, has created a Facebook group called "Sammy's Fight Back for Justice."

She hopes Sammy's Fight Back for Justice will help stop a repeat of what she sees as an injustice at the hands of police.

"Police everywhere don't have a right to mistreat us just because they have a weapon," the Facebook group says.

Family hiring lawyer

Sammy Yatim's father, Bill, questioned why police fired nine rounds before using a Taser.

He declined a full interview but said his family is getting a lawyer.

Some of the people taking part in the protest march wore T-shirts, others carried placards calling for justice in Sammy Yatim's death. (Steven D'Souza/CBC)

The family lives in the area of Sheppard and Victoria Park avenues, and moved to Canada from Syria about five years ago. Yatim had recently graduated from high school.

Neighbour Valentine Rociu said Yatim was a good kid who was "extremely calm."

Police Chief Bill Blair, during a news conference where he sought to assure Torontonians that he wanted answers to the shooting as much as they do, said the police force was reaching out to the family.

"As a father, I can only image their terrible grief and their need for answers," Blair said.

With reports from the CBC's Steven Bull and Steven D'Souza and The Canadian Press