Let’s have the whole truth, please

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When, exactly, did we pass through the Looking Glass into Alice’s topsy-turvy world, where everything is backwards? By that, I mean: when did we start thinking of drug-abusing, switchblade-wielding, violent sex offenders as the heroes, and decorated police officers, who put their lives on the line to protect society, as the villains?

The recent conviction of Const. James Forcillo for “attempted murder” in the shooting of Sammy Yatim aboard a Toronto streetcar was little more than an electronic lynch mob, fuelled by an inflammatory and misleading video.

Martin Baron, who shot the video from a very safe distance — he appears to have been at least 50 feet away, and was never in any personal danger — justified his decision to release it on YouTube, saying, “I think it’s a little bit strange to say you didn’t get a fair trial because people saw what you did.”

He is wrong; a half-truth is often worse than an outright lie. This is why witnesses in court swear not just to tell the truth, but “the whole truth,” and Baron’s video showed anything but the whole truth. It did not show, for example, that Yatim was holding a 4.5 inch switchblade knife — an illegal weapon — which he brought on board the streetcar with him, thus proving his premeditation to commit violence.

The video did not show him slicing at the throat of passenger Bridgette McGregor, a complete stranger who had done nothing to provoke him; it did not show Yatim exposing his genitals to female passengers; it did not show the streetcar passengers stampeding for the exit in near panic. All it showed was a police officer shouting at, and then shooting to death, a young man, without any indication why it was necessary.

In this province, we encounter the same mindset when discussing the death of Don Dunphy (Brian Jones, “Justice denied for Don Dunphy,” Feb. 5).

Of course, Jones revealed his attitude to law enforcement last month when he appeared to argue that the police shouldn’t be allowed to lay charges against a pedophile until after the pedophile has actually harmed a child (“Sex doll case hard to figure,” Jan. 15).

His bias against the police in the February opinion piece is even more glaring. To start with, he refers to the shooting of Don Dunphy as “an incident that was highly suspect from the start,” an assertion for which he has absolutely no evidence. Of the Justice minister’s decision to have an independent third party investigate the RCMP investigation, Jones goes on to say, “I see it as bad news, because the highly likely implication is that the RCMP will lay no serious charges arising from the incident.”

Why is this bad news? Was Jones actually looking forward to a police officer being charged, regardless of whether the evidence justified it? Is Jones unable even to contemplate the possibility that the officer did nothing wrong?

But I forget — Jones isn’t concerned about whether any law was broken, he’s upset because an “injustice” was done.

“(A) huge injustice was done to Dunphy the moment the RNC officer set foot on his property,” he writes. “Any boot imprint may as well have also been stomped onto the Charter of Rights.”

Funny — I don’t remember where in the Charter of Rights it says that the police don’t have the right to knock on your door and ask you if you’d like to answer some questions.

“The tweets Dunphy had sent were clearly and obviously not a threat to anyone.” What does Jones mean by that? Does he mean that nobody has ever been killed by a tweet, or does he mean that the tweets did not contain anything that might be construed as a threat? Has he seen these tweets and what they contained? If so, would he mind sharing them with his readers? And if not, then how does he know they were “clearly and obviously not a threat”?

“Having a cop arrive at your door because of an expressed opinion is more in keeping with a police state than with a democratic society that respects freedom of speech.”

No, being thrown in prison, or summarily executed because of an expressed opinion is what typically happens in police states. There is nothing wrong, in a democratic society, with a police officer asking you questions in the course of an investigation, or warning you about the legal consequences of uttering threats. And if you don’t like it, that’s still not an excuse for threatening him with a loaded firearm.


William R. Lorimer

Bell Island

Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: Toronto

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Recent comments

  • Colin Burke
    February 18, 2016 - 08:29

    A lesser weapon's being used more effectively than a firearm does not in the abstract render it superior or even equal to a firearm. What makes the firearm "superior" is its doing for him who uses it most of the work of violence. The disadvantage in using a firearm against a knife-wielding thug is that the thug can unleash and direct his energy, physical and emotional, while the man with the fiearm has to stay calm, cool and collected in ordr to use it well. Also, he pretty well has to remain stationary and vulnerable while the knife-wielder can to some extent avoid the firearm's aim. But I've been reliably informed that the police are trained to advance to the next level of force beyond that with which they are confronted and that a firearm is indeed the next level of force to be employed when one is confronted by a knife-wielding thug. The police are not, therefore, taught to fight fairly but more effectively on the same level as their opponents, and that denies in effect that all citizens are equal under the law -- until the citizens whom the police seek to dominate are convicted in court according to due process. It is that to which I object: if Mr. Lorimer were to shoot in self-defence a knife-wielding thug trying to attack him, I do not think the police would give him the latitude he seems all too willing to allow the police, perhaps just because they are willing to save him the trouble.

  • Colin Burke
    February 17, 2016 - 08:26

    Mr. Lorimer, I have indeed never faced a knife-wielding thug, and I suspect you haven't, but it does seem to the unpracticed mind that "tackling" a knife-wielding thug virtually invites a knife in the back. Also, tackling the thug is, as I still maintain shooting him must be, more a form of attack than of self-defence.

  • Edwin Charles
    February 17, 2016 - 06:32

    Mr. "C", an excellent, intelligent and well thought out retort to my posting. I am overwhelmed at the thought of the enormous input of brain power required from you to produce such a scholarly reply to my statement. I believe a nerve was struck!

  • Doug Smith
    February 16, 2016 - 18:16

    Lynch Mob Mentality, you need to read what I said more carefully before making unfounded accusations. I said I would rather (note I’m not forcing anyone to do anything) a cop shoot my killer on the spot (note in this case there is no question who the killer is) rather than go to court. And I made it perfectly clear why. I don’t believe the Canadian justice system values victims lives nearly as much as the lives of murders and I gave examples of the disgracefully lenient sentences of 6,15 and 25 years handed out for murder. I unlike the justice system value my life and everyone else’s lives more, than any number of years. Doug Smith, Grand Falls-Windsor

  • Doug Smith
    February 16, 2016 - 15:58

    William Lorimer, I see you have been fooled by the term “life sentence”. In Canada that means, a murderer will serve some prison time, 7 years, 15 years or 25 years but will be set free eventually. David Folker was sentenced to 15 years with the possibility to be released from prison at the expiration of the sentence, is a more accurate portrayal of reality than saying he received a life sentence. And I will remind you his victim, Anne Marie Shirran will not ever be released from the sentence David Folker gave her. Regarding Michael Rafferty, I think it is more of a gross misrepresentation of the facts when you insist he was given a “life sentence” when in fact he is eligible for parole May 19, 2034. I agree a person accused of a crime deserves a fair trial in a court of law. My point was if I was killed I would want the murderer shot dead because I would not receive justice in a Canadian court as the sentences to Folker and Rafferty show. Doug Smith, Grand Falls-Windsor

  • Alert
    February 16, 2016 - 11:55

    in my view police officers should not have weapons;any weapons;not batons either.they should be armed only with human love and wisdom. this yatim case could easily have been resolved by the officer showing yatim he was disarming himself by laying down his firearm and telling yatim he was loved and approaching him to give an arrest hug.

    • DWI
      February 16, 2016 - 12:31

      It's an either /or dichotomy with you simple minds.

    • William Lorimer
      February 16, 2016 - 14:15

      Great use of sarcasm. :-)

  • Prince Caspian
    February 16, 2016 - 11:19

    "No, being thrown in prison, or summarily executed because of an expressed opinion is what typically happens in police states." This is clearly an attempt at irony. I think it succeeds admirably.

  • BIAS(S)ES?
    February 16, 2016 - 09:42

    First of all, I work for a living. If people are going to write with purpose her, please edit your work before sending it in. ; "it did not show Yatim exposing his genitals to female passengers;" this is a waste of our time, and as for tossing Dunphy into this TO mix, Sir, the incident was suspect BECAUSE, he did none of the genital exposing, etc to warrant a warrantless invasion of EASTER SUNDAY privacy. The rest of this letter steps over the tweets (instead of TO genitalia, just give us the Tweets you are rambling about?) "And if you don’t like it, that’s still not an excuse for threatening him with a loaded firearm." So, here is a narrative of threat, from "prick dead" to pointing a long-gun. Sorry Buddy, both you and Brian Jones are using this incident to polarize attitudes toward police and gov. as good, or bad. Lets call them human, and admit that this was a botched call for unethical service. Not a criminal murder. Not an ambush by Dunphy. HE DID NOT go to town looking for trouble. Did the cop interrupt a suicide attempt? Who knows. Not Jones. Not Lorimer. Too biased are these men, to give useful commentary. Too longwinded. Better writing needed all around. Soo much irrelevant violence in the comments. Why don't you all start a butter-knife-fight club in the underground parking lot at the Babylon mall?!?! See who can disarm who. Whom? I am not a writer.

  • C
    February 16, 2016 - 09:35

    Edwin Charles, go fly a kite!

  • Edwin Charles
    February 16, 2016 - 09:07

    The majority of respondents to the telegram base their opinions on the premise that our justice system is guided by the Christian belief that rehabilitation of the guilty should be the prime, the ultimate focus in sentencing and not vengeance. If this be so, then, where is the rehabilitation for those sent to "hell" in the Christian Theology? Interesting!

  • Errol
    February 15, 2016 - 21:49

    As to the Dunphy shooting...yes, the thread of tweets was published. How anyone could interpret them as threatening is certainly beyond me. Also published was the very strange rambling e-mail written by the shooter to all on the RNC list. It was leaked to the media almost immediately. The big question is who started the chain of events that had a personal bodyguard of the Premier drive 90 km alone to interview Dunphy on Easter Sunday...perhaps the officer made the decision himself, instead of a phone call, or even get the local RCMP who knew Dunphy, to speak to him about the innocuous tweets. Allegedly, a .22 caliber long gun was pointed at the officer, after a 15 minute conversation when Mr. Dunphy became agitated. Where did the gun suddenly appear from? Certainly not his pocket. If it was in plain sight upon entry to the residence it is the officers duty to secure it for safety. If Dunphy became agitated, and left the room to retrieve the weapon, surely a fully trained and experienced officer would have accompanied Dunphy, and would be able to restrain him, since by all accounts, Dunphy was a diminutive man, not in the best of health. Alternatively, the officer could have left, and waited for back up. There are no living witnesses, nor any video of what happened inside the Dunphy home. Too many unanswered questions. Just because the officer said it was so...does not make it so. That is why we will have a Public Enquiry on this one.

  • Doug Smith
    February 15, 2016 - 19:37

    Jeff, I’m not sure your comment was meant for me , but just in case I’ll answer it anyway. Yes, I would rather a cop shoot my killer on the spot rather than have him brought to so-called justice , which in too many cases is no justice at all. I’ll give 3 examples. 1) David Folker was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the murder of Anne Marie Shirran. Folker actually admitted he killed her. That’s the value the Canadian justice system puts on Ms. Shirran’s life. 15 years. 2) A Toronto woman ,Erika Mendieta was sentenced to six years in prison for beating her two year old daughter Emmily to death. Six years. Jeff see any justice here? 3) Michael Rafferty, was given a 25 year sentence for the rape and murder of Victoria Stafford, an eight year old girl. When Rafferty is 56 years old he will be able to get parole , his 25 years will be up then, but Victoria will still be in the ground. So yes, Jeff, I want the cop to shoot my killer on the spot. Doug Smith, Grand Falls-Windsor

    • William Lorimer
      February 16, 2016 - 09:33

      Doug Smith: David Folker was not sentenced to 15 years; he was sentenced to life. He was convicted of second-degree murder and may apply for parole after 15 years, but it's not automatically granted. Michael Rafferty also was sentenced to life, after his conviction for first degree murder. It is a gross misrepresentation to say he was given a 25-year sentence; he was not. I don't care if you're Michael Rafferty, Jack the Ripper, or Mother Theresa; if you are accused of a crime, then you are entitled to a fair trial in a court of law. My point was that you only get that trial if you are captured alive; if you make it impossible, or too dangerous, for the police to take you alive, that's your problem; it's not a violation of due process.

    • Lynch Mob Mentality
      February 16, 2016 - 10:33

      Let me get this straight, you would have a police officer murder someone without trial because the justice system isn't up to your liking. Fine. Have you given any thought to the trauma that that cop might be suffering for unnecessary murdering another human being to satisfy your blood lust?

    • DJ
      February 16, 2016 - 11:54

      I'm waiting for part 2 where Doug tells us about the "justice" for all the innocent people sent to prison for years.

  • roy206
    February 15, 2016 - 17:36

    To help even the score, I think it was a great letter, well written and presents compelling arguments..We are all brave from the lazyboy, not so much so when violence stares you in the face. Maybe let the facts speak for themselves rather than the mob mentality that has become so popular.

    • William Lorimer
      February 16, 2016 - 17:31

      Thank you

  • Doug Smith
    February 15, 2016 - 09:54

    Mr. Burke, I can’t believe you would prefer to have a person who killed you brought to court rather than have a policeman shoot dead your killer. You seem to not understand the Canadian justice system. Often killers in Canada are given between 0 and 25 years in prison. Is that all you life is worth ? Doug Smith, Grand Falls-Windsor

    • Jeff
      February 15, 2016 - 13:09

      Are you saying you would rather have a cop execute someone on the spot rather than have them brought to justice?

  • james
    February 15, 2016 - 09:33

    Guess some people would like to live in a police state .Time to reign in the cops they believe the law does not apply to them

    • Donna J.
      February 15, 2016 - 10:07

      You seem fine with police states in other countries. Hypocrite.

  • dave
    February 15, 2016 - 07:58

    "Has he seen these tweets and what they contained?". Yes, they were published shortly after the shooting. Even a child could see there was no threat. If the officer got that wrong then what else did he get wrong.

  • The real Calvin
    February 15, 2016 - 07:35

    Have to throw your line of reasoning back at you here Bill. How do you know all those things about Yatim are true? Because a police officer said it was so? A couple witnesses indicated these were his actions? Police investigations in the past have found that out of 10 possible eye witnesses, maybe 3 can agree on the actual facts of a case. Do you know for sure the witnesses weren't coerced or coached by police to backup a police officer who had just killed a man? You know none of these things any more than anyone knows what happened at Dunphy's residence the day he was shot. I don't necessarily disagree with some of the things you are saying. However on a continent where documented cases of police brutality and murder are rampant, with video evidence abounding (yes video evidence, the only piece of evidence more damning than DNA), I can't agree that we as a society are lifting up the criminals and putting down law enforcement. If Yatim was wielding a knife, do you honestly think it was necessary for the officer to shoot him 9 TIMES? In the head and torso area no less? I imagine the officer's taser, or you know, a gunshot wound to the leg, would have been enough to subdue Yatim. I respect the police who put their lives on the line to keep the monster's in our society at bay, but wearing a badge doesn't give them a licence to kill. That only happens in the movies.

    • William Lorimer
      February 15, 2016 - 11:45

      Ummm - Calvin, if you can't even be bothered to acquaint yourself with the basic facts of the case, why are you bothering to offer your uninformed opinion? None of the officers on scene carried a Taser; in fact, one of the first things Forcillo did was to request a sergeant with a Taser, and his partner, 24-year veteran Constable Iris Fleckheisen, did call for a Taser, which arrived shortly after Mr. Yatim was shot. That explains why Forcillo didn't use a Taser - something you would have known if you had bothered to check your facts before posting. There were far more than "a couple" of witnesses; there were four video cameras inside the TTC streetcar - two of them in colour - which showed everything that happened, in far greater detail than the video that Mr. Baron couldn't wait to post to YouTube. The videos clearly show Yatim slashing at Bridgette McGregor's throat; they show her recoiling in horror; they show the passengers fleeing from the streetcar; they show passenger Aaron Li-Hill holding his bicycle up as a shield while backing away from Yatim; they show Yatim holding a deadly knife out in front of him. The ones released to the public have his crotch pixelled out, but I'm pretty sure when they were shown in court, they didn't blur out his exposed penis or his hand holding it, and none of the reporters who covered the trial, or the lawyers on either side, took issue with the fact that Yatim was holding his exposed penis as he stalked down the aisle. The knife, a 12-cm switchblade, was physically presented as evidence in court, and the autopsy revealed that Yatim had consumed ecstasy and cocaine. None of that is based on eyewitness testimony. Do I believe it was necessary to shoot 9 times? I know it's possible, even plausible, for Forcillo to have believed that. The first three shots were entirely justified; Yatim was less than 21 feet away and moving rapidly toward the police officers, holding a 12-cm (4.5 inch) switchblade knife - this was established in court, and the knife presented as evidence. In the worst case scenario, with his running start, he could have reached Forcillo in as little as 1.2 seconds, and the fact that he was already moving toward the officers meant that they would have had no additional warning if he decided to attack. The second set of 6 shots was spaced out over approximately 5 seconds; they weren't fired in a rage, or a panic; it was far more consistent with Forcillo pausing for one second after each additional shot to reassess the situation. The simple fact is, life is not like a video arcade. It took 6 shots to stop armored car robber William Matix in Florida, and 12 to stop his partner, Russell Platt, in 1986; Matix killed two FBI agents, crippled another, and wounded several more, after he had already been shot several times; after a total of 18 bullets, Matix and Platt were still trying to steal a car and escape. In 2007, Dale Wells was shot 5 times at close range with a .357 Magnum - one of them at point blank range to the back of his head - by his ex-girlfriend, Denise Moss, and survived. There is no set number of bullets that will be guaranteed to kill someone. The police are not doctors or paramedics; they are not qualified to pronounce a suspect dead. Even a doctor can't do so without examining the body. The police had to operate on the assumption that Yatim was still alive and capable of inflicting deadly damage; this is why he had to be Tasered, as a precaution, by the sergeant who approached his body to disarm him. This strikes me as common sense. People keep saying "documented cases of police brutality are rampant", but when asked to come up with examples, it keeps coming back to cases like Mike Brown in Ferguson, a violent thug who attacked a cop; or Tamir Rice, a 12-year old who - according to his own classmates - intentionally modified a toy gun to make it look like the real thing, then - according to video surveillance footage - walked up and down scaring people with it. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm fairly sure a lawyer will give you this advice: if you ever shoot an attacker in the leg, to "disable" him, then make darn sure to tell the police you were trying to kill him and you missed, and be prepared to explain why you felt it necessary to kill him. If you admit you weren't justified in shooting to kill, and you nick the femoral artery and he bleeds to death, you've just confessed to manslaughter, if not second degree murder. You NEVER, EVER shoot someone - in the leg or anywhere else - unless you are prepared to see them die. THAT only happens in the movies.

    • The real Calvin
      February 15, 2016 - 13:11

      Ummmm - Bill, love how you twist your reasoning to support the fact that police all over North America are killing people who could have been subdued otherwise. An unarmed thug attacks a cop, better shoot him 12 times to make sure he can't..... spit on the officers?! Someone calls 911 on a kid with a gun and states in the call, "Gun looks fake and the guy is a youth," better open fire on him before our police cruiser even comes to a stop, let alone assess the situation. Note that the officer who fired the shots in the Rice case had previously been deemed unfit for duty in a separate jurisdiction. You are comparing two heavily armored individuals carrying assault rifles to a man with no body armor, and a knife. Or arguing that because one man miraculously survived being pumped full of high caliber bullets at close range, that police should be able to wield their weapons without consequence. Police are trained to subdue criminals without the use of lethal force. They are trained to practice the use of lethal force as a last resort. They are trained to wait for backup in highly volatile situations. But sure, the court got it wrong, and we as a society idolize criminals and persecute police officers..... Also love that you assume I am unfamiliar with the case because I put forth an argument contrary to your own. All you are doing is regurgitating the facts laid out by the defense. You, personally, still have no idea what happened there, only what is being presented before the court. I admit, I misunderstood when the legislation was passed allowing officer's in Ontario to carry a taser at all times. Coincidence, Ontario passed that legislation mere days after the shooting, long before the case saw a courtroom. Still doesn't excuse the officer from firing 9 shots. Go get yourself a handgun and see how long it takes you to shoot 9 shots. Then, try it again in an agitated, fearful state and see how many of those 9 shots hit the target. The officer very calmly unloaded 3/4 of his clip into a man carrying a knife. What reassessing was the officer doing after the first 3 shots? "He just moved, better shoot him again. Tried to lift his arm, better shoot him again. Unless I am mistaken he just took another breath, better shoot him again. I don't see any blood yet, maybe I missed him, better shoot him a couple more times."

  • Colin Burke
    February 15, 2016 - 06:54

    The catch, where police shoot someone who has only a knife, is that since the police supposedly are "protecting society" when in fact they are immediately protecting only themselves, we let them get away with far more than anyone else would get way with in the same circumstances. If we accepted the duty to protect ourselves and insisted on that right, we would not need, or deem it appropriate, to accord that extra privilege to hireling guardians for taking a risk we decline.

  • Colin Burke
    February 15, 2016 - 06:19

    That the police are nobly protecting the rest of us gets too much emphasis these days; they benefit by being employed to do that, while we forget we have a right and a duty to protect ourselves. What I want the police to do is charge and bring to court anyone who manages to murder me despite my doing my best to protect myself; if they shoot such a person dead they have failed in their duty to bring him to court; after all they are only police and not judges. A policeman who shoots a knife-wielder isn't defending himself; he's counterattacking with superior weaponry; if he were equipped to block a knife-thrust (or slash) with (even) a (small) shield, then he would be defending himself

    • Joe Hine
      February 15, 2016 - 11:44

      Really! Get a little shield and wave it at a guy with a knife trying to stab you....get a grip

    • William Lorimer
      February 15, 2016 - 15:47

      Colin Burke: I think it's pretty obvious that you've never actually been face to face with a violent stranger wielding a 4.5 inch switchblade, or any other kind of knife for that matter. A gun is utterly useless if you are not allowed to use it , so it doesn't matter if it is "superior weaponry". Also, whether a weapon is superior or not depends on the circumstances; a howitzer is more powerful and deadly than a handgun, but if a soldier with a 9mm pistol gets close enough to shoot the gun crew, their "superior" weapon will be as useful as a pile of scrap metal. As for the notion that a trained police officer should be able to take down a knife-wielding assailant, Private Amedeo Garramone, an off-duty military policeman, tackled a knife-wielding thug in Halifax in 1978. Not only was he stabbed through the heart and almost killed, his actions that night gained him the Cross of Valour, the highest Canadian award for bravery for actions not in combat. So spare me the cowboy conclusions that a knife is not a dangerous weapon.