Reaction Roundup: what Toronto is saying about Friday’s shooting at Queen station
On Friday night, an 18-year-old man was shot by police inside Queen subway station. The incident conjures unpleasant memories of Sammy Yatim, whose police shooting death in July sparked protests and resulted in a criminal charge against the officer responsible.
The details of Yatim’s death were made public almost instantly, thanks in part to a video shot by a bystander, but in this latest case things are much different: the teen’s name hasn’t been released, we don’t know precisely what he did to provoke such a violent reaction from police, and we don’t know exactly how the situation unfolded. We do know that the teen will likely live to tell his side of the story. Several news sources are reporting that he’s hospitalized, but in stable condition.
Because of the lack of available facts, response from the public has been muted, but there have been a few flare-ups of commentary—some figurative, one literal. Here’s what Toronto is saying.
The Supposed Eyewitnesses
We have no way of confirming this account of the shooting, posted on Reddit Toronto by a user called Snuffy1717, but it contains some interesting details. According to Snuffy, who claims he and his girlfriend were on the subway when everything happened, the teenager was armed: “He had the gun in his hand, pointed at the floor. Never raised it or his voice. Looked over at where my girlfriend and I were sitting and said, ‘I don’t want to hurt anybody, just get off the train.'”
A woman named Jessica Wong, who also claims to have been on the train, has been quoted in several news reports because of this tweet:
Queen subway shooting some crazy kid screams"I have nothing to live for anyways" and multiple gun shots fired#toronto pic.twitter.com/Z9f0ML7yW4
— Jessica Wong (@jzkawong) December 14, 2013
Wong has also said that somewhere between 10 and 15 shots were fired.
On Sunday, activists involved with a group called Disarm the Police staged a protest outside the Eaton Centre. The demonstration was not subtle, even by police-protest standards: it included the burning of a pig effigy. “They shot somebody who was clearly having a mental breakdown,” a woman named Sakura Saunders told the Star. No details about the teenager’s mental state have been made public.
The Official Line
The Toronto Police Service has said virtually nothing about the incident, but Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, which investigates police-related injuries and deaths, has weighed in. SIU spokesperson Carm Piro told the Post and other media outlets that four officers fired at the teen, but that it’s not yet known whose bullets actually struck him.