2013: Phone video of incident showing several police at the front of the streetcar confronting Yatim. Photo: Markus Grupp-from Youtube video

High profile police shooting: death of Sammy Yatim- Constable James Forcillo conviction upheld

Forcillo appeal on conviction denied.

The case involves the 2013 police shooting of a young man on a Toronto streetcar.

Shortly after boarding the streetcar, Sammy Yatim, pulled a small 10 cm knife and chased everyone off the trolley. Within minutes police arrived, and Yatim was dead.

Constable James Forcillo shot the young man nine times with his pistol when Yatim apparently took a step forward as if to approach the door on the empty streetcar

A camera on the streetcar shows the driver on the step with Yatim just entering the frame holding the knife. The driver had stayed on the vehicle, left but then got back on for several moments, even casually turning his back on Yatim, before jumping off. Within less than a minute after police arrived, Yatim was shot dead. Image TTC

Video’s of the incident led to outcries of police brutality saying and obviously disturbed Yatim should have been talked down, instead of quickly shot. An autopsy showed he had taken the drug “ecstasy”.

Forcillo had first fired three shots at close range into Yatim, then as the man lay on the floor his spine shattered by the first volleym a few seconds later, Forcillo shot six more times, one bullet missed. After being shot 8 times, another officer fired his taser into Yatim.

Constable Forcillo was charged with second degree murder and attempted murder. He was eventually convicted of attempted murder in 2016.

A court had ruled that the first three shots were justified as there might be doubt as to Yatim’s movements, possibly intending to move out of the streetcar ad threaten police.  Thus, Forcillo was acquitted on the more serious charge of second degree murder on the first three shots, but the court ruled the next six were not and he was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to six years.

Clearly unnecessary

The sentence was appealed as Forcillo’s lawyer had asked for a new trial, or acquittal on the charge.

The appeal was dismissed and the charge upheld.

The appeal court judges stated there were obvious differences in the situation between the first volley and the second and that the second volley of shots were , “clearly unnecessary and excessive”, adding it constituted a ‘fundamental failure to understand his duty to preserve all life and not just his own”.

Const. James Forcillo (L) and Sammy Yatim (R) Photos: Facebook

No Remorse

The three appeals judges, unanimous in upholding the original conviction, also noted that Forcillo has never made any expression of remorse for the shooting. Yatim’s family also expressed that they were pleased with the appeal verdict adding they also have never heard Forcillo express remorse either.

The Yatim case comes on the heels of another incident in Toronto where in spite of provocation, Officer Ken Lam arrested an alleged killer without firing his gun. The man is the driver of the van which allegedly deliberately drove into pedestrians killing 10 and injuring 14. Officer Lam has been widely praised for his cool handling of the situation.

Forcillo’s lawyer says they have 60 days to determine if they will, or can, appeal to the Supreme Court.

Additional information – sources

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