A man believed to Sammy Yatim’s best friend was shot and killed by police on the morning of Monday, March 14.
Vice Media was able to identify the man as Alex Wettlaufer. Police responding to a call of two fighting in Villaway Park late Sunday night shot him.
Wettlaufer was reportedly shot twice before being rushed to the hospital and later pronounced dead. The latest reports from the Toronto Star said that the a tactical unit with the Toronto Police negotiated with him for around 15 minutes before shooting Wettlaufer, who was believed to either be carrying a real or replica gun.
The story Wettlaufer’s mother told Vice Media is quite different. She claimed that the original call to police had nothing to with her son and that two men had jumped him. Police arrived with weapons drawn on him.
She claims to know this because her son called while the police had weapons pulled on him. She said she heard them shout to drop the phone and, almost immediately once the phone was dropped, shots were fired.
For those unfamiliar with the Sammy Yatim case, he was young man who was shot nine times by Officer James Forcillo, while yielding a knife on a Toronto city bus.
That case was full of controversy with video available showing what appears to be an unnecessary and excessive shooting of a man who did not pose an imminent threat to the officer.
In the end, Forcillo was charged with attempted murder, but not second degree murder or manslaughter, which was a confusing verdict considering Yatim died on the scene.
Then there was the matter of the nine shots fired, which the video clearly shows six of which were fired at a man down from the previous shots. The jury found though those six shots to be excessive, unjustified and attempted murder.
Despite the jury’s verdict Forcillo has not started serving his prison time. He is out on bail as he awaits court procedure through the appeals process. This now nearly three years after Yatim’s death on July 27, 2013.
Although early reports revealed that Wettlaufer’s death appears to have little in common with the circumstances of Yatim’s death, it is a stark reminder of that event.
The last year has been a difficult one for justice, where the shooting of unarmed Michael Brown and the proceeding for protests in Ferguson, Missouri has brought attention to police violence throughout North America.
Since being awakened, the problem of police brutality has been a mainstay in news cycles.
It has been a disheartening time for many; abuse of force has been so common. Writers such as Shaun King have been able to create cottage industries reporting on unjustified police shootings, and the Black Lives Matter movement has been able to gain traction as many realize the gravity of the situation.
We can’t decipher why police can’t stop killing unarmed minorities or why we just started noticing it.