Yatim case forensic pathologist details bullet wounds

Nov 2, 2015 | News

The Superior Court of Justice in Toronto. Courtesy: Alex Martino

The Superior Court of Justice in Toronto. (Alex Martino)

By Alex Martino

Ontario’s chief forensic pathologist took the witness stand Monday outlining the details of the eight bullet wounds identified during an autopsy on Sammy Yatim’s body.

Michael Pollanen used his University of Toronto teaching experience to explain to the jury the complexities of the bullet wounds and entries, and the damage those shots did to Yatim’s body.

He noted how the bullets form anatomical clusters on the body and how those performing the autopsy marked bullet wounds based on their location on the body. The autopsy was conducted on July 28, 2013, a day after Yatim, 18, was shot on a downtown streetcar in a standoff with police.

Const. James Forcillo is facing charges of second-degree murder and attempted murder.

Using a diagram, Pollanen described where each bullet entered Yatim’s body and where the bullets were found.

Pollanen testified that the shot causing Yatim’s death occurred in the first volley of shots.

The bullet entered Yatim’s chest and travelled downward puncturing his right lung and opening one of the main pumping chambers of his heart, he said.

Blood escaped through the hole the bullet made and Pollanen said two litres of blood were found in his chest cavity.

Another bullet that entered Yatim’s body through his hand and then re-entered at his chest damaged his spinal cord, disconnecting his brain’s messages from his lower extremities.

Those shots play a vital role in the debate on whether Yatim was still alive and whether he would be able to move while he was dying.

Pollanen said that it was “difficult” for experts “to digest seconds and minutes.” Once the bullet punctured Yatim’s vital organs, he said it took time for the 18-year-old to die, but it was rapid.

The pathologist also noted that it was unclear whether Yatim’s movements were voluntary or if they were “passive movements from collapsing.”

Pollanen confirmed that the bullets which caused the most fatal damage entered while Yatim was in an upright position.

However, there were five more bullets that entered when the deceased was lying horizontally, he said.

Trial resumes with further testimony from Pollanen and the continuation of Toronto Deputy Police Chief Michael Federico’s cross-examination.