Crown trying to 'criminalize' cop's judgement, Forcillo's lawyer tells jury

TORONTO -- The lawyer for a Toronto police officer on trial for killing a teen on an empty streetcar is asking a jury to acquit the man, saying the prosecution in the case is trying to "criminalize a judgement call" made by a first responder.

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Const. James Forcillo has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and attempted murder in the death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim.

Forcillo's lawyer, Peter Brauti, says the case needs to be decided not out of sympathy for any party, but on the evidence heard at trial.

The jury has heard that on a night in July 2013, Yatim had taken the drug ecstasy before boarding a streetcar where he pulled out a small knife.

After panicked passengers rushed off the vehicle, videos and audio played at the trial have shown that Forcillo arrived on the scene, yelled repeatedly at Yatim to drop the knife and fired nine bullets at the teen after a 50-second confrontation.

Crown prosecutors argue Forcillo's actions were not necessary or reasonable. Brauti contends the officer's actions were justified and carried out in self-defence.

"To be clear, no one likes the end result in this case," said Brauti.

"There can be no doubt that while Mr. Yatim may not have been a perfect young man, he is missed by his family. The answer in this case is not to take officer Forcillo away from his family. That is not justice."

Brauti accused Crown prosecutors of trying to "cloud the big picture" in the case by engaging in a frame-by-frame microanalysis of Forcillo's confrontation with Yatim, along with suggestions of alternative-use-of-force options the officer could have used.

"What's important to understand is it is Mr. Yatim's outward behaviour that results in him being shot," Brauti told the jury. "If he obeys any one of the dozen commands given, if he puts down the knife, Mr. Yatim lives to be put on trial for criminal conduct and we would not be here today."


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