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Toronto Police Officer Charged in Shooting Death of Sammy Yatim Ordered to Stand Trial

Constable James Forcillo faces a charge of second-degree murder.

Constable James Forcillo, the Toronto police officer charged in the shooting death of Sammy Yatim, has been ordered to stand trial on a charge of second-degree murder.

After a two-day preliminary hearing that ended today, it was determined that there is enough evidence for a trial. Forcillo is set to appear in court on July 30 to arrange a trial date, likely for 2015.

The shooting occurred on July 27, 2013, when an officer fired nine shots at 18-year-old Yatim, who was alone on a TTC streetcar and armed with a small knife. Yatim was struck eight times before another officer Tasered him as he lay on the floor of the streetcar.

Passerby Martin Baron captured footage of the incident on his smartphone. The short video quickly went viral, and was broadcast by news outlets around the world—which may explain the unusual speed with which the Special Investigations Unit conducted their investigation of the shooting.

Forcillo is the first Toronto police officer to be charged with murder since the SIU was founded in 1990. He was suspended with pay two days after the shooting, but that suspension was lifted in February, when Forcillo assumed an administrative role with Crime Stoppers.


  • rich1299

    It annoys me cops get long paid vacations when charged with serious crimes like murder. If not unpaid leave as it should be and would be if he worked with the public in any other sort of occupation, then at least make him work in an administrative capacity. If it weren’t for that video and the public outrage that followed I have no doubt the SIU would’ve cleared him. Even people I know who support cops whenever they murder or maim someone or assault people at random like at the G20 thought this murder was disgusting and totally uncalled for.

    Even though he’s now facing a trial there’s very little chance he will be convicted, as some lawyer pointed out back when he was charged there are several other things he could’ve been charged with as well that most anyone else would’ve been charged with in such a situation. The very few cops that ever face murder charges almost never get any of the common accompanying charges making it far more likely they’ll never be convicted of anything.

  • Suicide Boi

    Here’s hoping for a quick acquittal.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      Maybe if he fired once, not nine times.

    • OgtheDim

      Given it went to trial, doubtful.

      The Crown sees something here worth prosecuting.

  • Notcleverguy

    I’m no police hater, but the fact the kid was alone on the streetcar, and there is video of the officer unloading nine shots from a distance where he was really in no danger, I personally don’t see how it’s anything less than manslaughter at the very least.

  • nevilleross

    As I’ve said before (and elsewhere), this is what we need to have as far as training for cops is concerned in North America:

    Education is highly stressed in police recruitment and promotion. Entrance to the force is determined by examinations administered by each prefecture. Examinees are divided into two groups: upper-secondary-school graduates and university graduates. Recruits underwent rigorous training—one year for upper-secondary schoolgraduates and six months for university graduates—at the residential police academy attached to the prefectural headquarters. Promotion is achieved by examination and requires further course work. In-service training provides mandatory continuing education in more than 100 fields. Police officers with upper-secondary school diplomas are eligible to take the examination for sergeant after three years of on-the-job experience. University graduates can take the examination after only one year. University graduates are also eligible to take the examination for assistant police inspector, police inspector, and superintendent after shorter periods than upper-secondary school graduates. There are usually five to fifteen examinees for each opening.

    About fifteen officers per year pass advanced civil service examinations and are admitted as senior officers. Officers are groomed for administrative positions, and, although some rise through the ranks to become senior administrators, most such positions are held by specially recruited senior executives.

    The police forces are subject to external oversight. Although officials of the National Public Safety Commission generally defer to police decisions and rarely exercise their powers to check police actions or operations, police are liable for civil and criminal prosecution, and the media actively publicizes police misdeeds. The Human Rights Bureau of the Ministry of Justice solicits and investigates complaints against public officials, including police, and prefectural legislatures could summon police chiefs for questioning. Social sanctions and peer pressure also constrain police behavior. As in other occupational groups in Japan, police officers develop an allegiance to their own group and a reluctance to offend its principles.

    Law enforcement in Japan: Conditions of service

    Until we get this kind of set-up for training police here in North America, we are all fucked every time we have to be near a cop or encounter one.