TORONTO CENTRE – Kristyn Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre), the Official Opposition Critic for the Attorney General released the following statement in response to the verdict of the Coroner’s inquest into the police shooting death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim in 2013:
“I would like to thank the jury for their verdict and important recommendations, which have been a long time coming.
More than a decade ago, a very young Sammy Yatim was experiencing a mental health crisis and instead of receiving help and compassion, he needlessly wound-up dead.
Police officers are not trained or equipped to act as emergency mental health professionals or social workers. It’s clear that protecting Black, Indigenous and racialized lives urgently require a shift in the way we respond to people in crisis.
The former officer, responsible for the death of Sammy Yatim has already been found criminally responsible by the courts. Other inquests have already resulted in comprehensive recommendations calling for greater resources for community mental health supports and mandatory de-escalation training for police.
The government has yet to implement key provisions of its own policing bill that would help ensure there was better training for, and accountability of police in a situation such as the one that led to Sammy Yatim's death.
I welcome the 63 recommendations of the Coroner’s inquest into Sammy Yatim’s death, and call on Premier Ford to implement these changes to prevent further such incidents from taking place.
I know this verdict is long-awaited, especially and particularly by Sammy’s family. My heart is with them. If there’s one lesson to be learnt from Sammy’s killing, it’s that the threshold for brandishing a gun needs to be much, much higher.”