Streetcar driver at scene of Sammy Yatim’s death finishes testimony

Oct 27, 2015 | News

The Superior Court of Justice in Toronto is the scene of

The Superior Court of Justice in Toronto is the scene of Const. Jame Forcillo’s trial. Courtesy: Alex Martino

By Alex Martino

Const. James Forcillo’s defence attorney painted a picture of a frantic scene in the moments before Sammy Yatim’s death with a TTC streetcar driver who maintained his composure.

Chad Seymour was the driver of the streetcar Sammy Yatim was killed on the night of July 27, 2013.

During cross-examination on Tuesday, Seymour interspersed one-word responses of “yes” and “correct” when prompted by Forcillo’s lawyer Peter Brauti, who did the majority of the speaking.

Brauti detailed the moments surrounding the police’s arrival at the location of the streetcar at Dundas and Bellwoods in Toronto’s west end.

Seymour operator said he talked with Yatim, who was asking to phone his father, and assured him he would get a phone to “buy time” while the police arrived at the scene.

The TTC operator told court that he had a phone on his person that night, but did not want to put himself in any unnecessary danger.

Brauti suggested that the arrival of police changed Yatim’s attitude, which Seymour agreed with.

Yatim’s sudden anger and flow of expletives made Seymour quickly leave the streetcar.

He clarified in the crown’s re-examination that he had his back to Yatim and assumed the deceased was approaching him with a knife.

“I didn’t give him time,” Seymour said.

Seymour said he was in “disbelief” at the way Yatim reacted to the police’s orders to drop his knife.

“Usually when a cop or police officer does that sort of thing people listen, surrender,” Seymour said.

Seymour said he only had a view of Yatim’s feet pacing back and forth in the streetcar, but saw him “motion towards the entrance of the streetcar” before shots rang out.

In earlier testimony, Seymour said that the second volley of shots came 30 to 45 seconds after, but he agreed with Brauti’s statement that the stress of the situation for him made time seem longer.

Brauti ended his cross-examination telling Seymour his “conduct on the streetcar was very brave that evening” and he “put [himself] at risk to help others.”

Seymour thanked Brauti for his words.

Trial resumes with the testimony of Aaron Li-Hill, the last passenger between Yatim and the flood of passengers evacuating the front entrance of the streetcar.