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

  • Trump's new message guru wants 'a more positive mojo'

    World News CTV News
    Anthony Scaramucci at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 17, 2017. (Michel Euler / AP) Source
  • Jordanian killed, Israeli wounded at Israeli embassy

    World News CTV News
    AMMAN, Jordan -- A Jordanian man was shot to death and an Israeli man was wounded in a violent incident at the Israeli embassy in Amman on Sunday evening, a security official and a news site linked to Jordan's military reported. Source
  • That stinks! Man seeking dropped phone falls in trash chute

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- A man looking for a dropped cellphone ended up in a stinky situation, tumbling into a building's trash chute where he had to be rescued. Washington, D.C., Fire Spokesman Vito Maggiolo says the man was throwing out trash at an apartment building when he thought he dropped the cellphone in the chute. Source
  • Funeral to be held Monday for Toronto boy who drowned on school trip

    Canada News CTV News
    A funeral for the 15-year-old Toronto boy who drowned on a school trip is being held Monday, though his family is still in disbelief over the death. Jeremiah Perry, a student at C.W. Jeffreys Collegiate, drowned in a remote lake on a school canoe and camping trip to Algonquin Park on the night of July 4. Source
  • 8 people found dead in truck outside Walmart store in Texas [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    SAN ANTONIO - Eight people were found dead in a tractor-trailer loaded with at least 30 others outside a Walmart store in Texas’ stifling summer heat in what police are calling a horrific human trafficking case. Source
  • Thunderstorms, strong winds expected in B.C. as crews continue battling wildfires

    Canada News CBC News
    B.C. fire officials are bracing for increased wildfire activity Sunday as thunderstorms and strong winds are forecast for many parts of the province. Environment Canada said strong winds between 30 and 70 kilometres per hour are expected in the Cariboo and Interior regions, with thunderstorms expected in the Kootenays in the late afternoon. Source
  • Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak's tenure comes to an end

    World News CBC News
    Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak — a high-profile figure in the controversy over alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election — has concluded his assignment in Washington. The Russian Embassy in Washington announced on Twitter that Kislyak's tenure ended on Saturday. Source
  • 'An angel': Burnaby pays tribute to slain girl found in park

    Canada News CTV News
    Family, friends and others from the community of Burnaby, B.C., were on hand Saturday night to pay tribute to Marrisa Shen, the 13-year-old who was found dead in a city park. There were plenty of tears and questions at a candlelight vigil for the slain girl, as investigators are still struggling to piece together the final 12 hours before her body was found. Source
  • Citizenship study guide getting revamp as taxes, census, treaties described as obligations

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA - Respecting treaties with Indigenous Peoples, paying taxes and filling out the census are listed as mandatory obligations of Canadian citizenship in a draft version of a new study guide for the citizenship exam. The working copy obtained by The Canadian Press suggests the federal government has completely overhauled the book used by prospective Canadians to prepare for the test. Source
  • Israel installs cameras at holy site amid flaring tensions

    World News CTV News
    JERUSALEM -- Israel set up new security cameras Sunday at the entrance to a sensitive Jerusalem holy site as officials consider alternatives to recently installed metal detectors that set off a weekend of violence and prompted the Palestinian president to declare a severing of ties. Source