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Brandon Persaud

Thomas R. Klassen
Assignment 6: Ombudsman Report
June 13, 2017

On July 27, 2013, 18-year-old Sammy Yatim was shot and killed by a member of the
Toronto Police Service. The young man was alone on a Toronto streetcar, holding a small
knife. The tragic incident was captured on video and shared on social media, resulting in
questions and concerns of police using lethal force in Ontario.

Although Yatims death was unfortunately quite similar to a number of incidents in the
past years, his case is however noted to be quite unusual for two particular reasons:
1. The video images of the incident was viewed half a million times in the first 4 days
and was made instant to a large audience.
2. One of the officers involved was charged with second-degree murder and attempted

The terrifying news and images caught the attention of the public as hundreds of people
along with his family attended protest in his honour, where he was referred to as
everyones son. Together, they brought new focus and urgency questioning police
behaviour and training. Resulting the main question of, Were police doing enough to talk
people down, so they dont have to shoot them down?

This investigation was launched in an effort to answer that question. The Ontario
government is responsible for the training of police and it is in the interest of the public to
examine what direction it provides to police for dealing with such situations and avoiding
the use of lethal force given the issue.

Immediately after Sammy Yatim was shot, an investigation by the provinces Special
Investigations Unit was started. Four days later, the Ombudsmans Office begun to
conduct a case assessment, where they looked at how police are trained to de-escalate
situations of conflict before they lead to the use of harmful force.

The case assessment included looking into, preliminary reviews of provincial guidelines,
police practices and training, as well as cases similar to the Yatim shooting. Interviews
were directed with many officers, also with the families that suffered from similar

The families who spoke to our investigators asked many questions, most responding
shocked as to how and why. Which led to observing an officers use-of-force options.
Many models of the wheels were in place, which ultimately led to a reinventing the
wheel, and pin pointing what is wrong with it, and how it can be fixed.

Municipal/regional police services and the Ontario Provincial Police, all of which fall
under the responsibility of the Ontario government, specifically the Ministry of
Community Safety and Correctional Services, carry out policing in Ontario.

The responsibilities and powers of the Ministry with respect to policing fall under the
Police Services Act. The Act grants authority to the Ministry to:
Develop and promote programs to enhance professional police practices, standards and
Develop, maintain and manage programs and statistical records and conduct research
studies in respect of police services and related matters; and
Issue directives and guidelines respecting policy matters.

Anyone wishing to become a provincial or municipal police officer in Ontario must

undergo Basic Constable Training at the Ontario Police College, which is overseen by the
Ministry's Public Safety Training Division. Followed by completely reading the Policing
Standards Manual, which contains guidelines to assist police services boards, chiefs of
police, police associations and municipalities with their understanding and
implementation of the Police Services Act and its regulations.

One of the most important guidelines in the manual is the Use of Force Guideline. This
guideline is intended to assist chiefs of police and police services boards in meeting the
requirements of the Equipment and Use of Force Regulation.

Developing de-escalation, steady training across the province would opportune

corrections on the Ministrys part, but wouldnt fulfil all needs. The primary issue that
must also be addressed, is that a culture that tends to regard fatal interactions with
persons in crisis as unfortunate but unavoidable.

Ontarios use-of-force guideline, along with the severity of its police recruits training,
and the content of in-service training are all below the standards that citizens should
expect in a modern jurisdiction.

The investigation identified a shortfall in numerous provincial guidance including:

the use of force and de-escalation, limited training for new recruits, a careless approach to
on-the-job training and a failure to monitor results. All of which are under the control of
the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

A new approach that gives the appropriate amount of attention to de-escalation

techniques has the potential to prevent such incidents in future. That new approach will
also give our police more and better tools to use when faced with any challenging
situations they may encounter on the street.

Many recommendations were brought forward as to how the Ministry and all Officers
can improve and move forward positively into the future.