File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Const. James Forcillo arrives at a Toronto courthouse to be sentenced for the attempted murder of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim in 2013.

Six months added to sentence of Toronto officer convicted in Yatim shooting

TORONTO — A Toronto police officer convicted in the fatal shooting of a troubled teen on an empty streetcar has had six months added to his prison sentence after pleading guilty to perjury, his lawyers said Thursday.

Const. James Forcillo fired two separate volleys at Sammy Yatim as the 18-year-old was standing alone holding a small knife on a summer night in 2013, in an incident that ignited public outrage after a bystander’s video was made public.

In 2016, a jury acquitted Forcillo of the more serious charge of second-degree murder related to the first round of shots — which, the court heard, killed the teen — but the officer was convicted of attempted murder related to the second volley, which was fired while Yatim was lying on his back.

Forcillo was sentenced to six years in prison in 2016, but was released on bail pending the appeal of his conviction and sentence.

In November 2017, however, Forcillo was charged with breaching the conditions of his bail after authorities found him living at the home of his new fiancee and not with his ex-wife, as the court had instructed him. Police later added charges of perjury and attempting to obstruct justice. The obstruction and breach charges were withdrawn when Forcillo pleaded guilty to perjury, his lawyer said.

Officers found Forcillo’s name on the apartment’s lease and security footage showed that Forcillo had been going to the apartment for a week, according to an agreed statement of facts presented in court by the Crown and Forcillo’s defence team on Thursday.

Forcillo’s appeal was dismissed by the Ontario Court of Appeal last month.

In light of Forcillo’s guilty plea on Thursday, Justice Sandra Bacchus sentenced him to six months in prison, on top of his existing term of six years.

Forcillo’s lawyer Michael Lacy said his client was going through a “difficult time” in the wake of both his appeal’s dismissal and his increased sentence.

“He accepted responsibility (for breaching his bail) and obviously he’ll have to take the punishment associated with accepting that responsibility,” Lacy said.

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