Toronto police Const. James Forcillo takes witness stand
Kheon Clarke and Eric Wickham
Toronto police Const. James Forcillo took the witness stand to defend how he responded the night Sammy Yatim was shot and killed.
Peter Brauti, Forcillo’s lawyer, questioned Forcillo about whether or not he followed his training Thursday.
“We are taught to shoot to stop the threat, not to kill,” Forcillo explained.
In an effort to understand Forcillo’s responses to other incidents, he was asked how many times he had drawn his weapon during his three years as a police officer.
“I don’t know the exact number but I believe about a dozen times,” Forcillo said.
Forcillo said out of the 12 people he drew his weapon on, he only had to open fire one time.
The defence brought the jury’s attention to video evidence of an incident in Kensington market where Forcillo was able to subdue two suspects armed with knives.
Forcillo was asked how he was able to subdue the suspects without opening fire.
“Because they did exactly what they were asked to do,” Forcillo said.
The jury was shown numerous clips of video evidence where Sammy Yatim repeatedly dismissed orders to drop the knife.
In a video shown to the court Forcillo warns Yatim “You take one step in this direction and I’m going to shoot you, I’m telling you right now.”
Forcillo told the court that Yatim took a deep breath, his eyes widened then made a flicking motion towards Forcillo with his knife.
“I yelled drop it… a last ditch attempt to make him not make this decision,” he said.
According to Forcillo, Yatim’s response to the final command to drop his switchblade was ‘no.’
Defence lawyer Peter Brauti then showed a video recreation of Yatim being shot, with Forcillo acting as Yatim.
The crown found an issue with this video, and the jury was excused while the crown, defence and judge deliberated.
The judge decided the video was admissible, so long as the jury knew the video was to be understood with the testimony given at the witness box rather than what Forcillo said during the video.
Forcillo said Yatim fell on his back and to his side after being shot three times. He let go of the knife, which fell a few inches away from him.
Then he said Yatim picked up the knife with his left hand, scooped it to his right hand in a two handed grip and began to sit upwards.
As Yatim began to sit up, Forcillo shot him six more times.
Brauti showed footage from the streetcar to corroborate with the testimony.
The trial will resume on Friday at 10 a.m.