CBC Forum: What are your thoughts on the Toronto streetcar shooting verdict?

A Toronto police officer has been found guilty of attempted murder even though the person he shot died from his wounds. What do think of the verdict?

  • If it was such a dangerous situation the officers were in, then I'm wondering why no other officer fired their weapons?
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  • This could easily been solved by closing the door and letting him cool off. No one was in any danger until this officer decided he had to shoot as the only option.
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  • Honestly, cops are commenting this will have ripple effects negatively for safety? BS. This guy wasn't even armed with a gun. The effect this will have is cops will act more responsibly when using lethal force. This isn't combat and you're not a secret agent. You don't have a license to kill.
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  • I find it interesting that two unarmed security officers at the Eatons Centre could subdue an assailant who was armed with a machete while Constable Forcillo thought it necessary to shoot . What was the hurry anyways? Even Nat Resources Officers will try to tranquilize a wild animal in the city before shooting it.
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  • I agree with A pundit below. Shut the door and give the kid some time to cool off.
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  • Why do you say that, Jack Jones? Could you be more specific?
    Correct verdict
    Canadian Judicial System "working"

    This whole trial is case in point why we are better than Americans. By far.Jack Jonesat 5:27 PM

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  • This is completely absurd. On video, a man threatens an entire busload of people with a knife, who were obviously scared for their lives as they all ran away from this guy. Any reasonable person would think this guy meant to do harm. The police show up, tell him 9 times to drop the knife. He does not. He is warned that if he takes one step towards the police they will shoot. He takes a step towards the police. They shoot.

    I am not a police officer nor do I have any military training.

    Every situation where lives are threatened is unique and we the general public cannot put 'rules' that apply to all situations.

    There are no winners here.

    Constable Forcillo is a hero.

    This is a tragedy caused by Sammy Yatim's actions towards passengers on the bus and police officers.

    If members of the general public do not want police officers using lethal force in these situations, allow all police to use tasers (which, despite all the whining of the uninformed, are SAFE).
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  • Lunch break. The blog will be back in 30 minutes. Thanks for contributing so far. There are well over 100 comments I haven't even read yet. 
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  • Verdict "WRONG" I am having trouble understanding how one can be foud quilty of attempted murder when the subject is dead.
    Officer not guilty of murder, end of story.
    An Officer performing his duty is under great pressure to get it right. I for one would not like to be questioned for doing my job to PROTECT the
    public.
    I dare anyone to respond to a threat which could take their live.

    Thank you Officer for making the streets safe for me and mine
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  • A complicated case. Those who really should be charged are the supervisors for inadequately training officers in handling dangerous situations calmly with appropriate action. From all the evidence shown on the news media I feel there were other options. But, due to inadequate training these options were not brought forward.
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  • I think the real issue here is if he was even remotely capable of having a real and fair trial. Tried in Toronto by jury, when in honesty it should have been moved somewhere else. The story and exposure of this case has been too surrounding to the idea of justice being remotely exhibited... or at least a fair trial.

    I also don't agree with the charge of attempted murder, something that seems to invoke the idea that he had premeditated this. Which I highly doubt he did.

    Lastly the judge didn't let the defence introduce evidence that would have made a grave difference to the jury. Which was the mental stability of Sammy Yatim.

    They'll take this to appeals court and I doubt they're going to rule the same way this court did.
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  • My concern is that the constable felt it necessary to shoot 9 times. After watching the video of the incident, my question is "why couldn't a taser be used before a shot was fired?" Or why didn't the office shoot the perp in the leg? 9 bullets. To me, that's excessive.
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  • There has to be another way to take down a mentally ill person carrying a knife. A gun I understand but shouldn't police be trained to take away a weapon otherwise. And why keep shooting after they are down? This is a human being !
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  • had i been on the jury ---i would have posed one question ----would forcillo have acted differently if the boy on the bus had been his son ???------with a follow up ---would he have allowed any officer to take the action he took? ----all the self-defence nonsense disappears
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  • The constable would have been a hero if he had
    Deescalated the situation . Instead he chose
    To kill a drugged up teenager who needed help
    This has happened too many times in Canada
    People in distress being shot , time for police
    To get there act together when comes to these
    Kind of situations . Hopefully this trial will do that
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  • I do not understand how the officer can be convicted of attempted murder when the young man died. Also why are we still paying the salary of a convicted attempted murder.
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  • I guess the police challenge is now meaningless. We see in movies where the cop says "stop or I'll shoot", allowing suspect to get away without shot fired. Some people think the challenge is an empty threat but as you can see here, it is very real.

    Who cares that the suspect was brandishing a knife and threatening people, "justice" must be served!

    Second set of shots thoug excessive. This isn't Israel where the cops have to worry about bomb vests everyday and such.
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  • I think he got off lightly, I can only imagine how I would feel if it had been my son. As was noted in a previous comment, all the that needed doing was for Forcillo to leave the car, close the door and wait. As I understand it the proper team was on its way. Way more training on how to deal peaceably with these situations needed.
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  • I suspect that significant portions of the public hold their breath when involved with the police in any way. You never know whether you're going to encounter another police officer who would likely shoot first and talk later. Chilling. Vey chilling.
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  • Keep in mind that a "Not Guilty" verdict is not the same as "Innocent". In this case it means that - during the initial shots - the jury could not determine beyond a reasonable doubt that Furcillo formed the criminal intent to commit murder (which would negate the murder charge), nor could it be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he acted in a reckless manner in taking a life (negating Manslaughter).
    But guilty verdict in the Attempted murder in the 2nd volley indicates the jury believed that sufficient "cool off" time had taken place in which no other officers fired even one shot. Therefor those shots, at a prone victim, were not justified. Since the first shot were the fatal ones, he could only be convicted of attempted murder.
    I don't think this is a "compromise" verdict. I've been on two juries, and in both cases there was full discussions and consensus reached on each charge separately. I have little doubt that this was the measured, logical conclusion that the jurors felt they could reach with the evidence they were aware of.
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  • It is a sad day for public safety. It is simple, Toronto Police were protecting the citizens. James is a hero. Criminals need to think twice before endangering the public
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  • There were so many ways of dealing with situation that did not involve shooting, and then shooting again. I find it really hard to believe that a well-trained, well-armed policeman, with ample back-up, needed to shoot a teenager, carrying only a knife, because the policeman feared for his life!
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  • Say Dre why did the officer standing by Forcillo not draw her gun. Why couldn't forcillo negotiate and wait for the tasers to arrive?
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  • Law enforcement officers have a difficult job. However, their number one job should be to de-escalate situations. Avoidance of a serious/life threatening situation is always better than any method of dealing with it after it has blown up. If training techniques need to be upgraded, then it should be a priority for the various forces. Hopefully this sends a message that LEOs are NOT above the law.
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  • Regardless of whether or not Forcillo should have opened fire, the moment that a police officer does so, he shoots to kill. He does not shoot to disable. Once the policeman shoots, there's no turning back; he has decided to commit hinself to the kill. You don't stop shooting until the other guy is dead. There is no "the first three shots were legitimate and the following was not". Either they were all legitimate or not.
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  • I don't understand the verdict at all. How could a verdict of attempted murder stand and the charge of second degree murder and manslaughter be not guilty. The boy died. Either the officer is found innocent or guilty of murder in the second which he was found not guilty. Very confusing how this verdict happened and how that charge even stood in the first place.
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  • Here's lawyer Joseph Neuberger's explanation of the verdict:

    Why was Forcillo found guilty of attempted murder? A lawyer explains

    Many followers of the Sammy Yatim/James Forcillo case were surprised by the jury’s verdict, announced today. Toronto police Const. Forcillo, who fatally shot Yatim while on the job in 2013, was found guilty of attempted murder but not guilty of second-degree murder

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  • From the story:

    It all comes down to the fact that Forcillo fired two separate rounds of shots, says Toronto-based criminal defence lawyer Joseph Neuberger.

    Medical evidence shows that Yatim was critically injured by the first round of shots and would have died whether or not Forcillo continued to shoot him.

    "What the jury must have found was that during the first volley of shots Forcillo was acting reasonably, in fear for his safety or the safety of others, and thus was not guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter," Neuberger says.

    During the second round of shots, however, "Forcillo knew that Yatim was on the ground and incapacitated, and therefore the second volley of shots was meant to kill Yatim."

    That second round of shots did not kill Yatim, because he was already fatally wounded. Therefore, although Forcillo may have had murderous intent, he was not charged with murder, Neuberger said.


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  • I think the jury came back with a compromise verdict....didn't want a hung jury. I don't think this is how the jury system should work.
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  • Forcillo's lawyer is quick to call this a "trial by Youtube" but everyone knows if it wouldn't have been for that cell phone video it's doubtful he would have even been charged. I agree with others that attempted murder is a joke. He gunned down that kid when he presented no danger. If he would have exited the bus and went after Forcillo that would be different, but clearly that was not the case as the Youtube video AND the TTC video shows.
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  • Responding to a commenter who wrote earlier that the Canadian judicial system is better than America's:
    @jackjones Better than Americans? Really? I'd have to argue there is more transparency and accountability in their systems. I'd take a look at the data for actual successful convictions against police in Toronto and further Canada. That data will show it's basically ZERO. Then look at the US, I'm willing to bet there are way more cops behind bars for being stupid. Canada has a lot of maturing to do in many respects. It's still a bit closed and the public is on a "need to know basis" this is an offshoot of it's monarchy roots.jock-cops-killat 5:32 PM

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  • There needs to be better psychological screening of police officers, regular reviews to eliminate violent bullies from serving in police forces and comprehensive training in non-violent resolutions to potentially dangerous conflicts.

    Although the great majority of officers are fine upstanding people, there is a small subculture of violent, racist and misogynistic elements that sully the reputations of credible law enforcement agencies. Better screening and better training will help to prevent such egregious and unwarranted violence perpetrated in the name of society.
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  • I have to agree with this sentence. A person on duty, charged to protect the public has a tough job and is trained to make proper decisions. In this case the officer failed. But first or second degree murder should not be an option unless it can be proven that the officer had motive beyond their duty to kill.
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  • I take more note of the tone of the comments than anything else, seems opinions are mostly falling into the verdict being 'right' or 'wrong' that this outcome is either a failure of a jury to see the truth; that they are either timid or easily fooled by the media. People go too far in diminishing both the jury and the officer. perhaps the jury was deliberate and careful, and perhaps the officer did make a mistake. He did say that he thought the second salve was possibly an error. Could he have just been carried away during the moment, why does he have to be a bully. does he have to be a saint just because he has a uniform. Does verdict have to mean the collapse of the effectiveness of the police force, or a complete failure to incarcerate a murderer who deserved it? Frankly I salute the jury, our system, the officer, the judge. seems that this is a reasonable outcome...given this terrible occurrence.
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  • I thought that they have a taser for this kind of work? I still don't get why doesn't he use a taser.
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  • I think the verdict achieved the best possible outcome. A murder or manslaughter conviction just wasn't there. That being said, it is difficult to believe that the officer's mind and intention could change from self protection to murder in an instant. If anything, the murderous intent was dominant from the start. However, there would always be a reasonable doubt in this scenario, so the attempt murder was the way to go. Good job jury!Peter Woodat 6:45 PM

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  • This is a very disturbing verdict. The video shows clearly that Cst. Forcillo was not in any danger whatsoever. There was no excuse for him to shoot. To those who say "we are trained to shoot centre mass" that is disingenuous and defies common sense. That may be the training but the circumstances did not require a centre mass shot. Are police officers also not trained to think or they merely automatons who are reckless as to the consequences?
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  • Okay. Attempted Murder in the CCC covers
    " anyone who tries to commit murder " And it also says a person commits culpable homicide when they cause the death of a human being by an unlawful act. And it then says that culpable homicide is murder when the person who causes the death meant to cause it or meant to cause bodily harm and was reckless as to whether death ensued. So how in the name of all that's holy can this guy commit an illegal act--attempted murder, which actually caused the death of someone by intentional actions-- and NOT be guilty of murder ?!
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  • Curious as to if 9 shots in a row without a pause between volleys would have resulted in a different verdict
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  • The Canadian police has become militarized as it is in the US. Other countries de-escalate such situations, especially when mental health is involved as is usually the case, with calm, steady de-escalation techniques. Mr Yatim was alone in a streetcar armed with a knife. Only close proximity would have caused a dangerous situation. Keeping the car doors closed and getting mental health assistance would certainly have been the better option. It is time for Canada to sever ourselves from the overuse of lethal force before other options are explored.
    As for the police, attempted murder is certainly an appropriate sentence, but in fairness to the officer, such force without secondary options has become the mainstay of Canadian policing. With this sentence, theres should also be a complete overhaul of the policing methods used for seriously disturbed individuals so that no more innocent people need die but instead, get the help they require..
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  • Yatim threatened passengers and the cop with a weapon, the verdict is wrong and unjust, Forcillo needs to appeal and hopefully is exonerated.
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    • Canadian Press
    Toronto police Const. James Forcillo was found guilty Monday of attempted murder in the death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim, but cleared on the more serious charge of second-degree murder. Here's what some of the key players had to say:

    "Sammy was a young man who had his whole future ahead of him. Because of what the police did we lost him forever." -Sahar Bahadi, Yatim's mother
     
    "The notion that there would be a guilty finding in respect of an attempt murder charge is a message loud and clear that the old days where a police officer went to trial in the shooting death of a mentally ill or an emotionally disturbed person and literally enjoyed an immunity at the end of a trial -- those days are gone." - Julian Falconer, lawyer for the Yatim family
      
    "My sense from this jury was, from the body language and what we were seeing, I felt we really had some people against us from the get-go, I really feel we had some people for us and I think we had some people in the middle. I'm concerned about a compromise verdict in this case but I also don't want to take anything away from this jury because I wasn't in the jury room." -Peter Brauti, Forcillo's lawyer

    "We are all going forward in time to see what we can do to reduce any harm to anybody we deal with who's a person in crisis. We're looking for anything that can help -- zero harm, zero death."
    -Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders

    "Clearly this sends a chilling message to our members and our goal is to keep our members engaged, keep them out there doing their job, but when you have an officer who is vindicated for the first three shots ... who said, listen, my training, I made a mistake, and then he's put in this position, it sends a chilling message." -Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association

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  • Mike McCormack, the head of the police union said the verdict sends a "chilling message" to Toronto police officers. I disagree. I think it sends a "chilling message" to the people of Toronto, and Canada. And that message is, if a police officer, anywhere, has his weapon pointed at you, and tells you to do something, you have, as in this case, less than 50 seconds to live if you do not comply.
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  • It's important to remember, putting the God complex some of them have developed aside, that the police work for us. We pay them to protect us and uphold the laws we elect our politicians to write. We do not pay them to execute our sons and daughters. We do not pay them to cover for each other when one of their own goes on a shooting spree. If you read the forums of all the news agencies covering this story,the majority cleary feels this was an unjust shooting. We can only hope the majority of police officers feel the same way.
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  • Here's a thought experiment, if it was a white girl and not a brown boy would we still have a funeral?
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