Fifteen-year-old Nathan Wehlre from Cambridge, Ontario and 16-year-old Taryn Hewitt of London, Ontario have been publicly identified as the victims of a fatal police chase on October 5, 2017, that ended in a crash described as “devastating” between the car being pursued and a transport truck. Family members have described the two as being in a relationship. The police chase was initiated by officers of the Waterloo Regional Police after a witness saw the couple arguing on the street in Cambridge, Ontario. The crash occurred on Highway 6 between Guelph and Hamilton. The Special Investigations Unit, which examines police harm to civilians, is investigating.
Category Archives: Ontario
Two people, a man and a woman, are dead following a police pursuit on Highway 6, south of Guelph, Ontario, around 10 AM on the morning of October 5, 2017. The car had been pursued by officers of the Waterloo Regional Police. The pursuit started at 9:30 AM. The pursued vehicle then drove east on Highway 401, then turned south onto Highway 6. At about 9:55 AM, roughly 30 KM away from the location at which the officers first tried to intercept the car, the vehicle collided head-on with a transport truck in a devastating crash that destroyed the car and killed its occupants. Both the male driver and the female passenger of the pursued vehicle were pronounced dead at the crash scene. The transport truck driver was not physically injured.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which examines case of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating the chase and crash. They have not disclosed how many Waterloo Regional Police officers were involved although reportedly at least three police cruisers were at the crash scene.
On Monday, October 2, 2017, killer Toronto Police Constable James Forcillo began the appeal of his conviction in the shooting and killing of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim on July 27, 2013. Forcillo’s lawyers asking the Ontario Court of Appeal to reconsider an interpretation of the killing and the timing of shots fired by Forcillo.
In 2016, a jury acquitted Forcillo of second-degree murder but convicted him of attempted murder after he shot and killed the distraught Yatim, who was isolated and alone on a Toronto streetcar. Forcillo shot the stricken youth after he had fallen down from the first shots, leading to the attempted murder charge and conviction (since Yatim was incapacitated when he was shot what other motive was there to keep shooing?). Forcillo was sentenced to six years in prison but remains free on bail until possibly 2018 pending the outcome of his appeal.
Forcillo’s lawyers disagree with instructions from Justice Edward that allowed the jury to consider the killer cop’s first three shots as a separate event from his next six shots. They occurred five-and-a-half seconds apart, the second volley coming after Yatim had already fallen from a fatal shot to the chest.
Even more disturbing Forcillo’s lawyers are also appealing the conviction on the grounds that they were denied the opportunity to frame Yatim’s killing as an attempted suicide. This ploy seeks to make use of the dubious and despicable “suicide by cop” excuse used often by police officers, forces, and police associations to justify and legitimize police killings of civilians. It has interested copagandist “criminologists” (typically current or former cops) ready and willing to promote the excuse in court on behalf of (fellow) officers. The lawyers argue that because Yatim wanted to die, less lethal interventions from Forcillo would not have worked. Forcillo lawyer Joseph Wilkinson argued at the Monday hearing that the trial judge should have allowed the evidence to “counterbalance” the Crown’s view that Sammy Yatim was a “person in crisis” who Forcillo could have dealt with without deploying lethal force. This excuse always seeks to remove the conscious decision of officers to shoot someone even in cases, like that of Sammy Yatim, the victim is alone and isolated and poses no direct or immediate threat to the public or officers. The officer has the opportunity to decide and still chooses to shoot to kill. That is not suicide by any definition.
The case is being heard by a three judge panel consisting of Chief Justice George Strathy, Justice David Doherty, and Justice Gary Trotter.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines case of police harm to civilians in Ontario, has assigned two investigators to look into the circumstances surrounding the death of a woman arrested by Windsor police on September 4, 2017. The woman was taken to the police station before being transported to hospital. She was released the following day but readmitted on September 10. She ended up on life support under circumstances that have not been explained publicly and was pronounced dead on September 18 after being taken off life support. No further details have been released publicly.
Toronto police constable James Forcillo shot and killed Sammy Yatim in 2013. Forcillo shot Yatim multiple times, firing even after the stricken youth had fallen dead. At the time Forcillo shot Sammy Yatim, the distressed youth was isolated and completely alone on a Toronto streetcar posing no threat to police or the public (as captured on witness video of the killing). For this Forcillo was sentenced in 2016 to six years behind bars, for attempting to kill Yatim (but curiously not for murder). That sentence was a rarity for killer cops in Canada, who are rarely charged and almost never convicted as the state protects the state in such cases.
Forcillo has been out on bail as he appeals the verdict and sentence. On Friday, September 29, 2017, Forcillo was granted a bail extension. A bail extension document states that the appeal process will contain a “fresh evidence phase.” The previous bail conditions for Forcillo were set to expire on Sunday, October 1, 2017, one day before the killer cops is scheduled to appeal his conviction for attempted murder in killing Sammy Yatim. Forcillo will now remain free either until the day before that hearing or until April 2, 2018 (whichever comes first).
Killer cop Forcillo is asking the appeal court to substitute a not-guilty verdict or to order a new trial in his case. Forcillo, a member of an institution that favors and promotes mandatory minimum sentences, is also seeking a declaration that the mandatory minimum sentence for attempted murder is unconstitutional (erstwhile proponents always want mandatory sentences dropped when they come close to home). Instead Forcillo wants to be granted a suspended sentence. Otherwise he seeks a reduction of his sentence to the minimum five years.
Incredibly, Forcillo’s appeal wishes to have arguments presented arguing for the bogus and discredited “suicide by cop” justification for police killings. This is a piece of propaganda, or copaganda, used to excuse or legitimize police killings of civilians. It is a mechanism for blaming the victim and removing a killer cop’s responsibility in deciding to shoot and kill someone who may have been in distress, even where they posed no threat to the public or to officers (as in a youth alone in an empty streetcar). It is despicable and nasty ploy by police and their supporters. Unfortunately there are unprincipled “criminologists” for hire (usually active or former cops) who are willing to promote this copaganda in courts to defend killer cops.
A high speed police chase by members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) ended in the death of Sheila Walsh (65), who was not the target of the chase. The driver of the pursued vehicle, a pickup truck, crashed into the vehicle being driven by Walsh with the truck bursting into flames. Walsh was declared dead at the scene. After the crash police told neighbors to evacuate their homes because of gasoline spilling out at the scene.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which examines harm to civilians by police in Ontario, is investigating the high-speed pursuit and how OPP officers responded to the situation. According to the SIU, police claim that at about 3:20 PM on September 25, 2017, the OPP responded to a call about a reportedly stolen vehicle in Eganville, around 130 kilometers west of Ottawa. The 20-year-old driver of the vehicle in question headed toward Arnprior on Highway 60, then to Highway 17, where the OPP began their pursuit. The truck collided with Welsh’s car a bit after 4 PM as she was pulling from her driveway on Daniel Street.
The SIU has assigned five investigators, two forensic investigators, and one collision reconstructionist to investigate the crash and the circumstances leading to it. None of the police claims have been independently confirmed. It is known that the risky and careless police decision to pursue enforcement of property rights has led to the death of a civilian.
One witness put it in clearly sensible term, In the words of Eric Bayley, a Bell Canada worker who observed the chase and crash while working:
“The chase should never have happened. If the guy robbed a bank they would have got him sooner or later. It was a stolen vehicle. Big freakin’ deal. Now a poor grandmother, mother, sister is dead. There’s no … way in hell those cops should have been chasing them down that … road.” (quoted in Crawford and Gillis 2017)
“There had to have been eight cop cars and three Suburbans wide open going down Daniel Street. It could have been a lot worse. I was talking to my buddy on the phone and I was like, ‘Holy s—t. This is not going to go well.’ He said, ‘What’s going on?’ and I said, ‘There’s a high-speed chase. There’s cruiser after cruiser after cruiser.’” (quoted in Crawford and Gillis 2017)
Indeed, a flag worker on construction site the chase plowed through had to leap to safety.
Ontario’s Police Services Act sets out the rules governing police pursuits. According to the Act, police can pursue or continue pursuit “if the police officer has reason to believe that a criminal offence has been committed or is about to be committed; or for the purposes of motor vehicle identification or the identification of an individual in the vehicle.” The Act also further states police must continually weigh whether “the immediate need to apprehend an individual in the fleeing motor vehicle or the need to identify the fleeing motor vehicle or an individual in the fleeing motor vehicle outweighs the risk to public safety that may result from the pursuit.” Dispatch must be notified of the pursuit and the (Crawford and Gillis 2017).
Crawford, Blair and Megan Gillis. 2017. “Eganville Man Faces Charges After Woman Killed in Crash During Police Chase.” Ottawa Citizen September 27. http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/witness-describes-devastating-and-deadly-arnprior-crash
Is it possible that police harassment or intimidation could lead someone to kill themselves? Is it possible that police might communicate to a vulnerable suspect in such a way that the person might then take their own life? Could fear of a specific officer lead someone to kill themselves if that officer called to tell them of an impending arrest or threaten them? These are only some of the questions that needed to be raised after a 43-year-old Smith Falls, Ontario, man killed himself on June 3, 2017, after a Rideau Lakes OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) officer called to tell him that he was facing charges and told him he should turn himself in.
Unfortunately, the head of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in Ontario, Tony Loparco, decided to terminate the investigation into the man’s death. That investigation had three SIU and two forensics investigators starting work. In an SIU media release, Loparco is quoted as saying:
“A post-mortem examination confirmed that the man died as a result of complications from a gunshot to the chest. When the man shot himself, no police officer was present. As such, there being no evidence that any police officer was responsible for the man’s death, this investigation has been terminated.”
This conclusion might be satisfying for police, their promoters, and copagandists everywhere but it does not address the key, pressing questions. Did the officer’s communication with the man contribute to his shooting himself? No officer needed to be present if intimidation, harassment, or threats led the man to despair. By terminating the investigation Loparco has ensured that these questions will not be properly pursued to real answers. Loparco has appeared quite friendly to police and drawn criticism from families of victims of police violence during his tenure.