Aug 20, 2013
By Jane Brown
In the shooting death which has captured the nation’s attention and prompted debate about police use of force, Constable James Forcillo has turned himself in this morning and is now in court at Old City Hall. The six year Toronto Police officer and married father of two is accused of second degree murder in the killing of 18 year old Sammy Yatim on a Dundas streetcar last month. Lawyer Abby Deshman is with the Civil Liberties Association. She tells the CBC, “police officers are generally very credible witnesses. And when they say they needed to act in self defense, that statement is going to carry weight with the court.” Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack is in the courtroom this morning “to ensure that our member’s rights are protected and that due process is followed and proper evidence is called.”
Sammy Yatim was alone on a streetcar and wielding a knife when it appears police fired nine shots at him, then tasered him just after midnight July 27th. Witnesses with smartphones and surveillance video recorded the incident. Legal expert Peter Rosenthal says the recordings will be central in the case against the Toronto Police officer. He tells CTV News, “the case is very strong against him based on the video evidence. We’ll see if the officer tries to give some sort of explanation or justification for shooting this young man in spite of the video. But it’s hard to imagine what he could come up with.”
Constable Forcillo is just the third officer to be charged with murder in Ontario since the province’s Special Investigations Unit began in 1990. He is the second Toronto officer to face such a charge.