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Sammy Yatim's family rally alongside other victims of police violence

Last Updated Jan 21, 2016 at 2:16 pm EDT

Almost a year after Sammy Yatim was shot to death by police on an empty streetcar those who knew him are still seeking justice.

And they’re not alone.

Friends and family of Yatim, including his sister Sarah and mother Sahar Bahadi, hosted a rally and march in downtown Toronto on Sunday to keep their search for justice top of mind.

They gathered in Yonge-Dundas Square before marching to the corner of Dundas Street West and Bellwoods Avenue, where the 18-year-old was killed after a standoff with police last July.

They were joined by other families dealing with the loss of loved ones at the hands of police.

 

Joanne MacIsaac’s brother Michael MacIsaac was killed last December when police shot him outside his Ajax home.

“When we saw the Yatim family on the news we felt outrage and saddened like everybody else. But we never dreamed it could happen to us a few months later,” Joanne MacIsaac said.

Now MacIsaac said she worries about her 13-year-old son having any interactions with police.

Her brother had run into the street naked in the midst of a seizure and high fever. Police attended the scene after being called about a domestic disturbance.

The SIU is still investigating Michael MacIsaac’s death, and his family still do not not know the name of the officer who fired the bullets that killed him.

MacIsaac’s sister said she would like officers to receive better training for diffusing tense situations.

For the family of 17-year-old Jeffrey Reodica the ten years that have passed since he was killed have done little to ease the pain.

“It doesn’t get any easier,” his sister Robyn Reodica-Mangubat said.

“And these families have to go through what we went through, and it breaks our heart.”

The teen was shot by Det. Const. Dan Belanger three times in the back on May 21, 2004, during a brawl between two groups of teens. He died three days later in hospital.

Belanger claimed Jeffrey was wielding a knife, but conflicting eyewitness accounts maintained he was unarmed and didn’t pose a serious threat to the officers.

The Special Investigations Unit later cleared Belanger by calling the shooting justifiable.

A coroner’s inquest was also conducted to look into conflicting testimony about whether Belanger and his partner Det. Const. Allen Love properly identified themselves to Reodica and whether a less lethal means of force, like a baton, could have been used.

Reodica’s mother Flora said if the witnesses had cameras, like in the Yatim case, the investigation into her son’s killing would have been different.

“Our witnesses didn’t have cellphones with video. They were just kids, so their words were shoved under the carpet,” she said.

Yatim’s death sparked widespread outrage when video of the incident surfaced online.

 

The officer who shot Yatim, Const. James Forcillo, is facing second degree murder charges on the recommendation of the SIU, a police watchdog. His case is still before the courts.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair also launched an internal use-of-force review in light of the public backlash.

Blair said former Supreme Court of Canada (SCOC) justice Frank Iacobucci will conduct the review that looks at “our policies, procedures and training” as well as the equipment used by Toronto police service, and he will conduct an international review of best practices “on how we can improve on our response to these difficult and sometimes dangerous situations.”

Blair said Iacobucci’s recommendations will be made public.

Click here for the Sammy’s Fight Back for Justice Facebook page.