James Forcillo, the Toronto Constable linked to the death of 18-year-old student Sammy Yatim, has been found guilty of attempted murder. Many were surprised at the relative leniency of the verdict, expecting that Forcillo would be convicted of second-degree murder instead.
According to The Globe And Mail, Forcillo fired two rounds of shots at Yatim, the first of which the jury deemed “reasonable” because Yatim “was brandishing a knife.” The verdict stems from Forcillo’s actions after these first three shots felled Yatim. From The Globe And Mail:
“The attempted murder charge was in relation to a second volley of shots the officer fired while Mr. Yatim was on the floor of the streetcar.
Five of those shots hit Mr. Yatim, but they were determined not to be the cause of death — leading the Crown to add a charge of attempted murder after the preliminary hearing last year.
There were gasps in the courtroom when the jury announced it had found the officer not guilty of second-degree murder after more than five days of deliberations and a four-month long trial.”
Yatim’s mother, Sahar Bahadi, argues that the police must overhaul their approach in dealing with the mentally ill or those under the influence of drugs. Yatim “had consumed ecstasy earlier that evening.”
“I would like to be a part of the discussion to change police training when dealing with people in crisis,” Bahadi said outside the Toronto courthouse. “Sammy had his whole life ahead of him. Because of what police did, we have lost him forever.”
During the trial, Forcillo angrily defended his use of force “when Crown attorney Milan Rupic suggested the officer failed to follow his training and lost his temper because of the lack of respect shown by” the high school student.
“Police officers do not get paid to get stabbed or shot,” Forcillo argued. “They are paid to go home in one piece.”
Rupic contested this assertion, remarking that Forcillo was inevitably “going to win the situation” against the young man.
“If you want to call it a win, that’s your choice,” Forcillo returned. “One way or the other, I was going home that night.”
Forcillo’s sentence for attempted murder has not yet been determined. He is currently free on bail.
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