Time to ensure police are trained to talk first (Toronto Sun)

Time to ensure police are trained to talk first (Toronto Sun)

June 29, 2016

29 June, 2016

Eight seconds.
 
That’s all the time it took for cops to slam the door of their cruiser and proceed to shoot Michael MacIsaac, says his sister Joanne.

Christina Blizzard, Queen’s Park Columnist
Toronto Sun
June 29, 2016

Eight seconds.

That’s all the time it took for cops to slam the door of their cruiser and proceed to shoot Michael MacIsaac, says his sister Joanne.

The Ajax family recently received the 911 tape from that fateful day in Dec. 2013, when her brother was shot by Durham Regional Police.

She believed he suffered an epileptic seizure before running naked into the street.

Joanne was at Queen’s Park Wednesday along with the family members of others who’ve been fatally shot by police, including the father of Sammy Yatim, to listen to Ombudsman Paul Dubé’s recommendations on how better to deal with people in crisis.

“From the time the (police officer’s) car door opened ... it was less than eight seconds and Michael was shot twice and he never said a word to Michael and Michael never spoke,” Joanne told reporters.

Bill Yatim, Sammy’s father, said the report doesn’t give him a sense of closure or of justice.

“Not quite,” he said, but it’s a start.

“There are a lot of other things that need to change. It’s the culture that has to be changed.”

Dubé’s report said cops too often use guns instead of words to calm situations where people in crisis, especially those who suffer from mental illness, are involved.

“Our investigation found that Ontario officers have plenty of training on how to use their guns, but not enough on how to use their mouths,” the report says.

In doing so, Dubé says, cops are doing what they are trained to do.

“When facing a person armed with a knife, they are taught to pull their guns and loudly command the person to drop it.”

That works with rational people. Too often, in situations where an irrational person is waving a weapon, the police response just escalates the situation.

Asked if he thought his son would still be alive if these recommendations had been implemented prior to his son’s death in July 2013, Yatim said he believes so.

“I am almost positive he would be,” he said.

In January, Const. James Forcillo was found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in Sammy Yatim’s death, but guilty of attempted murder.

Community Safety Minister David Orazietti said the government is determined to implement the recommendations of the report within 12 months.

Dubé was careful to say he’s not being critical of police. They do a dangerous, difficult job.

Joanne MacIsaac and Bill Yatim lost so much — yet ask so little. When your child, your brother is gone in eight seconds you need answers.

Until now, this province has been unresponsive and slow to change. You hope this culture of firing guns first and asking questions later will change in a year.

Because it’s tough to look in the faces of people like Bill Yatim and Joanne MacIsaac until we can say with certainty that cops were talking first — and shooting last.