Actions of cop in Toronto teen’s shooting death not necessary: Crown

A Toronto police officer's fatal shooting of a teen on an empty streetcar two years ago was neither necessary, nor reasonable, a Crown prosecutor told a jury Tuesday as he described the graphic details of Sammy Yatim's death.

TORONTO — A Toronto police officer’s fatal shooting of a teen on an empty streetcar two years ago was neither necessary, nor reasonable, a Crown prosecutor told a jury Tuesday as he described the graphic details of Sammy Yatim’s death.

Const. James Forcillo has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and attempted murder in the death of the 18-year-old, an incident that was captured on surveillance and cellphone video and triggered public outrage.

In opening statements to the jury that will decide Forcillo’s fate, Crown prosecutor Milan Rupic laid out a road map of the evidence he intends to present.

One of the fundamental issues for the jury to decide, Rupic said, will be whether it was necessary or reasonable for Forcillo to shoot nine bullets at Yatim while he was inside an empty streetcar surrounded by armed police officers.

“The Crown intends to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the shooting of Sammy Yatim was not necessary and it was not reasonable.”

In a detailed recounting of the incident, Rupic took the jury back to the night of July 27, 2013 when Forcillo and Yatim came face to face.

At the time, Yatim had “moderate to moderately high levels” of the drug ecstasy in his system, according to an autopsy, Rupic said.

Yatim boarded a streetcar around 11:30 p.m., sat at the back of the vehicle and for about 11 minutes didn’t do anything to attract attention until four female passengers sat down near him, Rupic said.

“Yatim began to engage in very strange and disturbing behaviour,” he said.

Yatim unzipped his pants and exposed himself to one of the women, and at the same time took out a small switchblade, Rupic said.

“Yatim swung the knife in front of her but the knife didn’t touch woman,” said Rupic. “The screaming females all got up and rushed to the front of the streetcar.”

The streetcar was stopped and passengers poured out, but Yatim stayed behind, Rupic said.

“None of the passengers were cut or stabbed by Yatim,” he said.

Yatim looked out onto the street, yelled obscenities to the crowd and then turned to the streetcar driver, who was still in his seat and asked if he had a phone, Rupic said.

“The driver said ‘who do you want to call?’ Yatim then replied, ‘dad,”‘ Rupic said, adding that Yatim told the driver “Go, I’m not going to hold you for ransom.”

Forcillo and his partner were the first officers to arrive on scene, responding to 911 calls from several passengers, Rupic said, noting that both officers had been told there had been no injuries.

Forcillo’s partner put her gun away shortly after she arrived, but Forcillo’s weapon remained drawn as he stood near the front doors of the streetcar repeatedly telling Yatim to drop the knife, Rupic said.

Two more officers arrived and Forcillo asked one of them to call for a sergeant with a Taser, he said.

Yatim refused to drop his knife and called the officers a derogatory term in a “mocking” tone but remained on the streetcar and didn’t lunge forward, Rupic said.

The teen then moved a few steps back from where he had been standing and Forcillo told him if he took another step forward he would be shot, Rupic said.

Yatim then took two steps towards the spot he’d been in previously and Forcillo opened fire, court heard.

“Of the five police officers who were in position at the immediate vicinity of the streetcar, the only police officer who fired their handgun was Forcillo,” said Rupic.

Two bullets hit Yatim in the chest — one caused a “catastrophic wound” to his heart which ultimately was responsible for his death, the other severed his spine, paralysing him from the chest down –and the third bullet fractured his right arm, Rupic said.

Yatim fell to the floor but was still moving slightly, and five seconds later Forcillo let off a second volley of shots which hit Yatim in the lower abdomen, penis and groin area, Rupic said.

“Over the course of the two volleys the defendant fired nine shots, eight of those bullets fired hit Sammy Yatim,” Rupic said.

Moments after the second round, a sergeant with a Taser arrived, discharged it and kicked the knife out of Yatim’s hand, Rupic said.

Police then moved in to handcuff Yatim and administer medical attention but the teen died shortly after, court heard.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta recorded a single-day record of over 57,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta hits daily record of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Central zone has administered 111,735 doses of the COVID-19

Alberta reported an additional 1,980 cases of COVID-19 Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer adds 37th death from COVID-19, active cases drop

Alberta Health identified an additional 1,980 cases of the virus province-wide

Kris Sturgess with Calgary Ghostbusters. (Photo from GoFundMe)
GoFundMe account salutes Red Deer prop builder

Kris Sturgess died unexpectedly April 28

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Mom’s Diner’s Facebook page)
FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Toronto FC coach Chris Armas talks with his players during a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg soccer match against Mexico's Cruz Azul at Azteca stadium in Mexico City, Tuesday, May 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Fernando Llano
Toronto FC coach Chris Armas returns to Red Bull Arena to face former team

Toronto FC coach Chris Armas returns to Red Bull Arena to face former team

Gymnastics Canada skipping Olympic qualifier because of COVID-19 concerns

Gymnastics Canada skipping Olympic qualifier because of COVID-19 concerns

Runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu speaks to the media at the opening news conference at the Canadian Track and Field Championships, in Montreal, Thursday, July 25, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
After pregnancy, injuries and a pandemic, Bishop-Nriagu finally hitting her stride

After pregnancy, injuries and a pandemic, Bishop-Nriagu finally hitting her stride

Lille's Burak Yilmaz, center, reacts with teammates after scoring during their French League One soccer match between Lille and Nice in Villeneuve d'Ascq, northern France, Saturday May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
Canada’s Jonathan David scores milestone goal as Lille moves 4 points ahead of PSG

Canada’s Jonathan David scores milestone goal as Lille moves 4 points ahead of PSG

Jean Carlo Salas of Costa Rica vies for the ball with Canada's Ian Bennett (right) during a CONCACAF Futsal Championship in Guatemala City, Guatemala, Wednesday, May 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-CONCACAF-Norvin Mendoza MANDATORY CREDIT
Canada denied a trip to the FIFA Futsal World Cup in penalty shootout loss to Panama

Canada denied a trip to the FIFA Futsal World Cup in penalty shootout loss to Panama

Canadian Stephen Ames one shot back of leaders at Regions Tradition

Canadian Stephen Ames one shot back of leaders at Regions Tradition

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson leaves the ice after defeating China at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Friday, May 7, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson beats China 6-4, qualifies for playoffs at world curling playdowns

Canada’s Einarson beats China 6-4, qualifies for playoffs at world curling playdowns

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks to a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday May 4, 2021. A broad coalition of MPs from all five parties wants the federal government to support waiving the global rules that guard vaccine trade secrets. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
As MPs urge support, Trudeau demurs on whether government backs COVID-19 waiver

As MPs urge support, Trudeau demurs on whether government backs COVID-19 waiver

Most Read