Broadcaster pulls documentary with concern for the ongoing trial of the Toronto officer charged with the death of Sammy Yatim.
The CBC has chosen to delay the broadcast of Hold Your Fire, a documentary described to take a critical look at police shootings of people in crisis.
Hold Your Fire examines cases such as the shooting of Paul Boyd in Vancouver and that of Sammy Yatim in Toronto, exploring the approaches police take to incidents involving potentially emotionally disturbed persons. The documentary lends support to ideas of training in de-escalation for police, to help in changing response mentality to situations with people in a mental health crisis.
Originally set to air tonight, tonight’s 9 p.m. broadcast was put on hold in response to the ongoing trial of Toronto Police Constable James Forcillo over the Yatim shooting.
“After careful consideration, we have decided that we cannot take the risk of airing this documentary on Thursday, Oct 22, 2015, as it could potentially undermine a fair trial currently before the courts,” said Chuck Thompson, Head of Public Affairs for CBC Services, in a statement to Torontoist. “This is a very strong film and we are going to air it as soon as we are not at risk of potentially prejudicing the trial.”
Helen Slinger, director of Hold Your Fire, believes the film was still viable to air in its originally scheduled time.
“I don’t agree with the decision but understand it is theirs to make. Even though the film was carefully made, and carefully lawyered, with knowledge that the Forcillo trial was coming up this fall, CBC feels some scenes are just too powerful to broadcast while the trial is underway,” Slinger said.
“We had a lot of conversations yesterday,” said Thompson, referring to talks between CBC officials and lawyers for the corporation after video of the Yatim shooting was presented at trial. Thompson said that it was particularly in reaction to the video that the decision was made.
He said that the decision was in no way influenced by any outside party or message, and that it was made as a “proactive” response out of concerns for impact upon the trial and legal responsibility.
It is currently unknown when Hold Your Fire will air.