Toronto police officer is jailed for killing teen on streetcar, shooting six times as he lay wounded
A Toronto police officer was sentenced Thursday to six years in prison for the shooting death of a teen on a streetcar in a case that sparked protests in Canada’s largest city after it was caught on video and posted on YouTube.
Justice Edward Then said during the sentencing that the video was “powerful evidence” that what Constable James Forcillo said occurred on the streetcar did not happen.
Forcillo was convicted of attempted murder in the 2013 death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim.
The video shows Yatim holding a knife inside a streetcar by himself, with police outside. Yatim goads police while officers yell, “Drop your knife!” Shortly after, three shots are fired. After a pause, six more shots are fired while Yatim is lying on the floor of the streetcar.
Last January, a jury acquitted Forcillo of second-degree murder, but he was convicted of attempted murder for continuing to shoot at Yatim while the teenager was lying on the floor.
During his trial, Forcillo told the court he believed the knife-toting teen was about to come off the streetcar to attack him, which was why he fired.
Justice Then said Thursday that Forcillo’s behaviour “constitutes a fundamental failure to understand his duty to preserve all life, not just his own,” Then said.
In letting loose a second volley of shots on Yatim, Forcillo committed an “egregious breach of trust” and his sentence must serve as notice to other police officers that they should open fire “only as a last resort,” Justice Edward Then told the Toronto court.
After the sentencing, Sahar Bahadi, Yatim’s mother, said outside of the courtroom that she remained outraged.
“He destroyed our family, he will destroy our lives,” she said. “But he didn’t show any kind of remorse.”
Forcillo’s lawyer, Peter Brauti, said an appeal has already been filed on the conviction and sentencing. Forcillo’s lawyers were to seek bail for their client from the Ontario Court of Appeal later Thursday afternoon.