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

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

See Full Article

Const. James Forcillo has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and attempted murder in the shooting of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim, whose death triggered outrage across the city 2 1/2 years ago.

As the trial nears its end, Forcillo's lawyer cautioned the jury that the case needs to be decided not out of sympathy for any party, but on the evidence heard at trial.

"Officer James Forcillo is not guilty of murder, attempted murder or any other criminal offence," Peter Brauti said in his closing address. "What the prosecution is really trying to do is criminalize a judgment call."

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," Brauti said.

"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."

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, sparking a panicked mass exodus after the vehicle came to a stop.

Surveillance videos and audio played at the trial have shown that Forcillo, who at the time had been a cop for 3 1/2 years, arrived on the scene and yelled repeatedly at Yatim to drop the knife.

Yatim refused and hurled expletives at Forcillo and other officers who gathered at the scene, court has heard.

The standoff between Forcillo and Yatim -- which lasted some 50 seconds -- escalated after Yatim took a few steps back from where he had been standing at the top of the vehicle's front steps.

Forcillo warned the teen that if he took another step forward he would be shot. He has testified he believed Yatim was ready to "fight till the end" when confronted.

Forcillo said his concerns about an imminent attack appeared founded when he saw the teen jerk his knife towards him before moving forward, towards the spot where he had been standing before.

At that moment, the trial has seen that Forcillo fired three bullets at Yatim, causing the teen to crumple to the floor. After a brief pause, Forcillo fired six more bullets.

Brauti accused Crown prosecutors of trying to "cloud the big picture" in the case by engaging in a frame-by-frame microanalysis of the confrontation, 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 said.

"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."

Brauti said Crown theories that Yatim was coming forward to surrender, in the process of putting his knife down, or that Forcillo could have used more polite language, or hurled baseballs or paintcans at the teen instead of shooting him, were all attempts to "distract" the jury.

"This case is about second guessing where an officer is allowed to draw his or her line in the sand," he said.

Brauti also noted that Forcillo had called for a sergeant with a Taser during his interaction with Yatim, and suggested that meant he didn't want to use lethal force unless it was necessary.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • With Quebec Liberals on the ropes, liberalism in the province is at a crossroads

    Canada News CBC News
    In the last provincial election, Quebec's Liberal Party suffered its worst defeat in its 151-year history. Even the most optimistic projections suggest the party will fare even worse when the votes are tallied on Monday. Recent polls place Liberal support between 15 and 20 per cent, battling three other parties for second place. Source
  • Food banks and 'care cupboards' are popping up on university campuses. Here's why

    Canada News CBC News
    When Tilova Tul arrived at the University of Alberta from Bangladesh last year as a graduate student, she quickly turned to the campus food bank for help. "I moved here with just two luggages, leaving everything back home," she said. Source
  • Booed in Beauceville: False Facebook post highlights Quebec election online misinformation

    Canada News CBC News
    It was a simple screen grab of a text message, posted to a popular Facebook group. "Legault was in Beauceville today. He went to a restaurant and everybody was booing and yelling at him!" the text said, in French. Source
  • Ukraine's Zelenskyy: No talks with Russia's Putin if land annexed

    World News CTV News
    Ukraine’s president warned Tuesday that Russia’s just concluded “sham referendums” and attempts to annex Ukrainian territory rule out any talks with Moscow as long as Vladimir Putin remains president, and called for Russia’s “complete isolation” and tough new global sanctions. Source
  • Canucks owner's estranged children say he beat and psychologically abused them, court hears

    Canada News CBC News
    Four adult children of Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini have all alleged that he physically and psychologically abused them when they were young, a B.C. Supreme Court judge heard Tuesday. The disturbing allegations came to light during a hearing over whether Aquilini is obliged to continue paying child support and covering university expenses for three of his children. Source
  • Russia using referendums 'to conscript Ukrainian citizens,' former Ukrainian ambassador says

    World News CTV News
    Ukraine's former ambassador to Canada says Russia could use so-called referendums in his country to conscript Ukrainians. "We believe the Russians will use it to conscript Ukrainian citizens in the occupied territories into the Russian army," Andriy Shevchenko told Evan Solomon on CTV News Channel's Power Play on Tuesday. Source
  • Judge certifies class-action lawsuit over delayed bail hearings and alleged Charter breaches

    Canada News CBC News
    A class-action lawsuit alleging that the Alberta government breached Charter rights potentially thousands of times by denying people timely bail hearings will go ahead. In a decision filed in Calgary on Monday, Court King's Bench Associate Chief Justice John Rooke certified a class-action suit for individuals arrested between May 2, 2016, and Sept. Source
  • Huge Russia-based disinformation network about Ukraine war disabled

    World News CBC News
    A sprawling disinformation network originating in Russia sought to use hundreds of fake social media accounts and dozens of sham news websites to spread Kremlin talking points about the invasion of Ukraine, Meta revealed Tuesday. The company, which owns Facebook and Instagram, said it identified and disabled the operation before it was able to gain a large audience. Source
  • Ebola deaths in Uganda rise to 23 as outbreak grows

    World News CBC News
    An outbreak of Ebola disease in Uganda is growing. A total of 18 confirmed and 18 probable cases have been reported, including 23 deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday. The agency noted this is the first Ebola disease outbreak caused by Sudan virus in Uganda since 2012. Source
  • Facebook Marketplace seller robbed at gunpoint in coffee shop, Vancouver police warn

    Canada News CTV News
    Vancouver police have issued a public warning after a string of robberies involving Facebook Marketplace users, including one terrifying incident that saw a seller robbed at gunpoint. Authorities said that robbery took place Monday night inside a coffee shop in the city's Kerrisdale neighbourhood, where a Facebook Marketplace user arranged a meeting to sell a designer watch. Source