Yatim’s actions ‘forced my hand,’ Forcillo tells court

Dec 1, 2015 | News

Artist rendering of Const. James Forcillo being cross-examined Dec. 1. Courtesy: Marianne Boucher/ @CityCourtsTO

Artist rendering of Const. James Forcillo being cross-examined Dec. 1. Courtesy: Marianne Boucher/ @CityCourtsTO

By Alex Martino

Toronto police Const. James Forcillo said Tuesday he stands behind his decision to shoot Sammy Yatim on a Dundas streetcar in 2013.

“Mr. Yatim’s decisions and actions forced my hand,” Forcillo told the jury as the Crown wrapped up its cross examination of him at the Superior Court of Justice.

The packed courtroom was witness to an, at times, tense back-and-forth between Forcillo and Crown Attorney Milan Rupic.

Rupic recalled Forcillo’s testimony last week in which he said his goal was to make sure he went home in one piece on July 27, 2013, the night Yatim was shot.

“You failed in your duty to make sure Sammy Yatim went home that night,” said Rupic on Tuesday.

“Mr. Yatim got shot because he came forward. He’s responsible for his actions,” said Forcillo.

“I shot him because he was a threat to my life,” Forcillo said.

505 streetcar shooting

Forcillo said several times that Yatim was “unafraid” and said the young man’s interactions were “threatening.”

Yatim was shot eight times in total and died on the 505 Dundas streetcar.

The crown maintained that Forcillo was “angry” that “this young kid was taunting” him and “didn’t realize [Forcillo] was the boss of the situation.”

“You were the one that lost your cool,” said Rupic.

“I was not angry. I gave him loud clear commands,” said Forcillo.

Rupic noted how the police officer said in his testimony on Monday that he did not see the cap Yatim was wearing or the cigarette in his left hand. Rupic said it was proof Forcillo “is not telling the truth.”

‘He would have stabbed me’

“I was looking at his face and the knife in his hand. A cigarette isn’t going to kill you. A knife is,” Forcillo said.

Forcillo also said, in the second volley he fired, he did not see the bullets enter Yatim’s legs and groin. Rupic, however, cited a witness at the scene who said he did see bullets go into Yatim’s lower body.

Forcillo defended the decision to fire the second volley of shots because Yatim had “re-armed himself” and the police officer said he “took it as a continuation of the threat.”

Rupic suggested to Forcillo that there were several other reasonable alternatives to shooting Yatim, but Forcillo reiterated his belief that the young man posed a threat.

“If I had done nothing, he would have stabbed me. If I had waited for the taser, he would have been off the streetcar,” Forcillo said.

“You shot him on a mere hunch,” Rupic said

“It wasn’t a hunch, believe me I’ve thought about this a million times: He was coming off that streetcar,” Forcillo said.

Trial resumes Wednesday with expected testimony from Const. Iris Fleckeiser, Forcillo’s partner.