Critical Analysis of Newspaper Article: The Shooting of Sammy Yatim

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The shooting of Sammy Yatim

On July 26, 2013 Toronto was crawling with events, streetcars were filling up quickly. Yatim was seated near the back when four girls got on and sat near him. Without any warning Yatim took out his penis and got up, he then pulled a switchblade on one of the girls and tried to slit her throat. which got everyone else’s attention (Rogan, M. 2014). At first Yatim didn’t want anyone to get off the streetcar but in a split-second moment Yatim told them to get off. Passengers that got off called the police, but one person remained, the driver. Yatim lunged at him when he fled off the streetcar but was unhurt. Finally, Yatim was the last one on board (Rogan, M., 2014).

Police then arrived, first on scene was Officer Forcillo and other fellow officers. The only information Forcillo had was that a girl was almost killed. Officer Forcillo drew his weapon and set up a shot on Yatim. He argued with Yatim to drop the knife but Yatim wasn’t being compliant. “No. You’re a fucking pussy” (Rogan, M. 2014). With every plea to drop the weapon Yatim had the same exact response. Forcillo had warned Yatim that if he took another step closed he would shoot. Yatim decided that moment and took one step out of the car. Without hesitation or letting his fellow officers de-escalate the situation he shot Yatim three times when he exited the streetcar. After falling to the ground Forcillo fired six more rounds (Rogan, M).

Seven months later Yatim’s family hired a lawyer. He filed a multimillion-dollar civil action against Officer Forcillo, along with other workers of the police agency and the agency’s board itself. The action taken was the alleging cruelty, excessive force and insufficient training. Three addition investigations were also in action. (Rogan, M.,2014)

Identify the Facts

In this ethical dilemma there are plenty of facts to identify. Yatim was eighteen and no history of mental health issues. Family, friends, and teachers denied he had any. That night the knife Yatim had was only ten centimeters long and Forcillo only had information that Yatim almost killed a girl. Another officer was trying to get Yatim to drop the weapon and in the middle of his sentence Forcillo shot. He took more shots than necessary to subdue the suspect, one officer had their gun drawn but didn’t fire and other officers didn’t even take out their guns. After Yatim was shot nine times he was then tasered. Yatim was pronounced dead at St. Michaels Hospital in the morning. After a video of the incident being released members of the public concluded that Sammy Yatim didn’t have to die. Forcillo was under investigation and ended up getting six years in jail for attempted murder.

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Legal Obligations

As a police officer for the Toronto Police Service, it was Forcillo’ s job to protect and serve. He swore an oath to do so. Although, this is not what Forcillo decided to do. His obligation is to use non-lethal measures before using anything lethal because an innocent life can be saved. Instead of waiting for the taser he discharged his firearm where bystanders were present. The Toronto Police Service has seven key values and two of those were ignored during this incident. One being Fairness, he didn’t give Yatim a chance and two he didn’t use teamwork for help in de-escalating the situation (Toronto Police Service, 2008). No matter what it was Forcillo’ s duty to follow the agency’s policies and procedures.

Interested Participants and Values

The incident that took place that night had a variety of different participants. Passengers from the train, especially affecting the driver and the girl that had a knife pointer at her. As well as any bystanders, police officers, Yatim’s friends and family. There was a major backlash from the community because people thought Sammy Yatim’s death was unjust. The unhappy public viewed the police officer as not doing his job properly. This was also how the Yatim family felt. They believed that Yatim didn’t deserved to die and other options could have been used. Officer Forcillo was impacted because he had legal action taken against him, along with all the public backlash. The female with the knife was pulled on her is probably traumatized about the incident more so than the other passengers of the bus. Lastly, anyone that witnessed the shooting were probably horrified at the lack of de-escalation done by the officer.

Ethical Theories

From a Deontological perspective the officer should’ve taken all of the necessary protocols in dealing with Yatim rather than going straight for his gun as its his duty to serve and protect. It can be said that Forcillo didn’t follow this duty and used excessive force on Yatim. In Forcillo’ s defense he could’ve been under a utilitarian perspective that when he killed Yatim it was so that no one got hurt. That meaning in his mind he was doing what’s better for the greater number of people.

Options with their outcomes

The options that could’ve been taken to prevent the death of Sammy Yatim almost sounds abundant. Officer Forcillo had the option of a taser but didn’t know how far away it was, so instead of finding out he shot anyways. A beanbag gun could have been used to make the suspect surrender or at most drop the weapon. Even the use of pepper spray since there were no other passengers on board could’ve worked. A less lethal use of force was accessible but not considered. If a mixture of non-lethal and verbal judo was used then the situation could have easily swayed to a resolvable point. The use of another officer to de-escalate, like the one that was cut off mid shoot could’ve made Yatim comply. Even the thought of having no guns drawn, a generous amount of space between the suspect could have gotten the outcome when Yatim would comply. It was an off day for him, and it was out of his normal to be acting in such a way. Sammy Yatim didn’t have to die.


  1. Rogan, M. (2014) The killing of Sammy Yatim. Retrieved from
  2. The Globe and Mail (2018) The Sammy Yatim Case: When policing goes wrong. Retrieved from
  3. Toronto Police Service (2008) Business Plan. Retrieved from
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Critical Analysis of Newspaper Article: The Shooting of Sammy Yatim. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from
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