Forcillo conviction stirs debate about 'trial by YouTube'

After Toronto Police Const. James Forcillo was found guilty Monday of attempted murder in the shooting death of teenager Sammy Yatim, the officer’s defence attorney called it a “trial by YouTube.

See Full Article

Lawyer Peter Brauti lamented to reporters outside the courtroom that every potential juror had heard of the shooting before the trial began, and therefore had probably formed an opinion of Forcillo’s actions.

After all, a cellphone video showing the shooting was posted to YouTube hours after the knife-wielding teen was killed on a streetcar on July 27, 2013, and it was widely circulated by those outraged at the officer.

However, an expert in social media’s effect on policing who studied the Yatim shooting for a book said it’s not clear that Forcillo was actually hurt by the video.

Prof. Chris Schneider told CTV News Channel that while the video did “frame how this entire case and circumstance was discussed by the news media and police,” the evidence doesn’t support Brauti’s view that the video caused most potential jurors to form negative opinions of Forcillo.

“There were numerous comments on YouTube in the early hours (of July 17, 2013) that said things like, “this was justified, Sammy Yatim had a knife, he was dangerous,” said Schneider, who teaches at Manitoba’s Brandon University.

Schneider did, however, think the video’s circulation had a negative effect in that it led to a “trial of public opinion.”

He said members of the public might have come to a conclusion of guilt based on the one-minute-long YouTube video, while jurors got to see other videos and additional pieces of evidence before deciding.

Ross McClean, a former Toronto Police officer, also thought the video’s release on YouTube may have helped Forcillo avoid a worse fate -- a murder or manslaughter conviction -- even though “it had everything to do with charges being laid.”

“He was cleared on those first charges,” McClean told CTV News Channel. “So I don’t think that (video) necessarily prejudiced (jurors).”



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Hungary's leader: Border fences will stop Muslim migration

    World News CTV News
    BUDAPEST, Hungary - Hungary's anti-migration prime minister says European Union leaders and Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros are seeking a "new, mixed, Muslimized Europe." Speaking Saturday at a cultural festival in Romania, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that Hungary's border fences, supported by other Central European countries, are the barriers to the EU-Soros effort to increase Muslim migration. Source
  • Trump complains on Twitter about 'illegal leaks'

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The Latest on the probe into allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election (all times local): 6:55 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump is complaining about a Washington Post report that the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Source
  • Couple catches slow, snaky death of rare Canadian salamander found only in Manitoba

    Canada News CBC News
    It was a sunny summer day on the Prairies when Laura Reeves witnessed the slow death of a secretive amphibian in southeastern Manitoba that isn't found anywhere else in Canada. "Weird thing to watch," said Reeves, a botanist who lives with her fiancé in the border-town of Gardenton, Man. Source
  • Indigenous Games leave lasting impact on all who participated

    Canada News CBC News
    The North American Indigenous Games end Saturday but will leave behind a reservoir of memories for everyone touched by this event. This 10-day festival will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark not just on the athletes who participated, but on those who helped them reach their goals. Source
  • Timing of Sean Spicer's exit allows him to go 'with the least egg on his face'

    World News CBC News
    He has been humiliated and mocked, and repeatedly frustrated and undercut by his own boss. But the hiring of a new White House communications director seems to have been the final straw for Sean Spicer, who announced on Friday he will abandon his post as Donald Trump's press secretary after a tumultuous six-month stint. Source
  • Grand jury indicts U.S. soldier on terrorism charges

    World News Toronto Sun
    HONOLULU — A federal grand jury in Hawaii indicted a U.S. soldier Friday for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State group. Army Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang was arrested by an FBI SWAT team on July 8. Source
  • Arctic exchange: Students from Toronto, Iqaluit swap places to tackle problems

    Canada News CTV News
    A group of Toronto students traded lives with teens from Nunavut in an exchange designed to give them a glimpse of challenges facing northern Canadians and the chance to brainstorm creative solutions. Daily difficulties were front-and-centre during the five-day visit in Iqaluit. Source
  • Firefighters bring nearly dead dog back to life

    World News Toronto Sun
    BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A California fire department says a little white dog named Jack is recovering after firefighters rescued him from a burning home and brought him back to life. In a video posted to the Bakersfield Fire Department’s website that has been widely shared online, firefighter Matt Smith is shown carrying the nearly lifeless shih tzu from the house on Wednesday. Source
  • White House threatens Iran over detained Americans

    World News CTV News
    In this March 6, 2012 file photo, an FBI poster showing a composite image of former FBI agent Robert Levinson, right, of how he would look like now after five years in captivity, and an image, left, taken from the video, released by his kidnappers, in Washington during a news conference. Source
  • Minneapolis police chief resigns in wake of officer shooting

    World News CTV News
    Minneapolis police Chief Janee Harteau resigned Friday at the request of the mayor, who said she lost confidence in the chief following last week's shooting death of an unarmed Australian woman by a police officer. Source