Ontario’s governing Liberals will announce changes today to use of force options available to police that have come under scrutiny following the fatal shooting of Toronto teenager Sammy Yatim aboard a streetcar last month.
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Yatim, 18, was shot multiple times and hit with a stun gun by police during a confrontation on an empty streetcar in late July.
The Special Investigations Unit — Ontario's police watchdog — has charged Toronto police Const. James Forcillo with second-degree murder.
Following the shooting, Ontario Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur said the government would conduct a use of force review to examine officer training, equipment and how use of force incidents are reported.
A report in the Toronto Globe and Mail on Tuesday, citing unidentified sources, said Meilleur will announce that all front-line officers in Ontario will be permitted to carry stun guns if their forces so choose.
Despite pressure from police to expand their use, Ontario has restricted the weapons to a select few supervising and tactical officers, setting police apart from counterparts in several other provinces and with the RCMP.
Speaking to CBC News ahead of Tuesday’s announcement, lawyer Peter Rosenthal, who has represented families of those killed in police shootings, said he will watch Tuesday's announcement closely.
“If Tasers are made more available, it will not cut down on shootings and it will lead to more injuries and occasionally even deaths," he said.
Ontario's ombudsman has launched his own probe into the Yatim shooting, to determine the kind of direction the provincial government provides to police for defusing conflict situations.
Retired justice Dennis O'Connor has been asked by police Chief Bill Blair to lead a separate review of police procedures, use of force and police response when dealing with emotionally disturbed people.
With files from CBC's Genevieve Tomney, The Canadian Press
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