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?

  • Shame on the Toronto Police Services.
    Is this really how these officers are being trained?
    Shoot first and ask questions later? What ever happened to de-escalation. Not sure there was any significant threat to the officer, and what about disabling the assailant using another tool or non-lethal method..
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  • Obviously a lot of people on this forum who hate the police... You give the guy a gun, send him to deal with the most dangerous and difficult situations that society has to offer, force him to make life and death decisions in an instant, and then hang him when he makes a mistake.

    When most people err at work paperwork is lost or a contract is late or some other mundane consequence results. The cops are working in a different realm where the consequences of mistakes can have a much more serious impact. That doesn't exempt them from making mistakes.

    For those who think that he should be found guilty of murder or attempted murder... Do you honestly believe that as he was en route to this incident he was thinking "I'm going to kill this guy". If this intent can be proved than by all means, convict him. Otherwise he is simply a guy who made a mistake at work.
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  • Mike McCormack, head of the police union states that this verdict sends a chilling message to Toronto's police officers. 

    * The message Mr. McCormack is that Toronto police officers to not have cart blanch to shoot first and ask questions later.

    Chief Saunders states that the police force "need(s) to look at our training a lot better". 

    *Mr. Saunders, that appears to acknowledge that there is a problem and this case is a clear indication. 

    Mayor Tory states it's a terrible tragedy and that it may bring about positive reforms in policing. 

    *Mr. Tory, It May bring about reforms in Toronto policing...indicating that it may not?

    It is clear that Forcillo was not trained in civillian crisis de-escalation. 

    If, in fact, Toronto police had performed due diligence and have properly trained all of their first responders then perhaps young Sammy Yatim would be alive and well today. 

    Based on the information at hand, Mr. Forcillo did not have the skill set to be a competent police officer. This is a failure the the Toronto Police, the Police Chief, The Police Union and the City. 

    Rest in peace young man.
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  • I agree with the verdict. 9 shots fired - 9 too many if Const. Forcillo truly wanted to disable Yatim; not the case at all here. Unfortunately a young life was lost in the process and the Yatim family will forever mourn their loss. Const. Forcillo abused of his powers as a law officer and went way overboard. He deserves the guilty verdict and matching sentence/outcome.
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  • So how was the threat of the boy established? He would of had to fly 10feet through the air to even come close to the cop. Are we all watching the same video?
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  • It's an unusual split verdict. It seems to me that the jury must have concluded that the first three shots were justified and mortal. The next six shots, after reloading, were not justified, but not necessarily the cause of death.
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  • It just proves that criminals can run rampant in this county and not even the police are allowed to stop them ! Alone in an empty streetcar ? He was armed with a knife and the streetcar had passengers until they felt they were going to be attacked and stabbed that the passengers fled but ya lets all skip that little fact and just say that the car was empty and he didn't attack or threaten anyone he was just shot standing on an empty street car for no reason at all. When cops are not allowed to stop armed criminals who refuse to drop their weapons its a sad sad sad day and us law abiding unarmed people are just supposed to be sheep to the criminals because they run this country !
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  • It is unfortunate that a young man had to lose his life and yes, the resulting trial does somewhat blemish the police. There is no right and wrong here, just a dead young man who should have been in treatment rather than the grave. Very tragic all around.
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  • Seeing as how this young man was wielding a simple small knife, there could have been a non-lethal protocol to follow. If Const. Forcillo were to execute this situation properly he should have disabled Yatim with a non-lethal shot, or perhaps a taser.. Unloading your hand gun on a half dead 18 year old does not necessary preach a justified action.
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  • That would be a life sentence.
    To make up for the attempted murder charge, hope we see sentencing of maximum term possible for his crime.Alat 5:14 PM

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  • If we're going to authorize police officers to use firearms -- police officers need to be trained to use them properly. Clearly most of them are not trained properly.

    But there are also policy issues that need to be addressed.

    Shooting to kill should be the absolute last resort and should NEVER be a first-response policy of any respectable police force. Otherwise "most" police officers shouldn't be authorized to use them at all -- because as stated above they clearly aren't able to use them properly.

    Firearms should ONLY be used to disarm, immobilize and reduce (further) damage -- not kill people except in the most exigent of circumstances.

    This obviously WASN'T an exigent circumstance.

    And then there's the proper psych screening of candidates applying to become police officers. There is an abundance of evidence that many police officers would be criminals if they weren't wearing a badge. We simply cannot have that quality of individual wielding that amount of power.
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  • Let me get this straight. The video shows that Yatim at no time left the interior of the streetcar and all the occupants had already managed to leave the vehicle.
    Now, this is the part I don't understand and I hope to be corrected.
    With Yaim armed only with a knife and Forcillo standing outside on the street with gun in hand how is it that the police officer feared for his and his fellow officers lives? I don't wish to second guess his actions but shouldn't Forcillo have used his police training and coaxed the lad off the streetcar and then employ his training skills again in disarming a KNIFE wielding individual (or did he miss that class at police college?). There were other officers standing around that could have aided Furcillo in the "take down" of Yatim once he was coaxed off the streetcar. There was no need to shoot the poor bugger in the first place.
    This death has similarities with Polish gentleman and the RCMP at Vancouver airport a number of years ago. You could tell in that video that even after
    the had him subdued they kept saying "hit him again" with the stun gun. They seemed eager to use their new "toy"
    The finding of Fucillo of "attempted murder" was a gift and he should be relieved.
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  • Why do police officers go to this dark place? No excuse to shoot people when there are other methods. Officers must be screened and when there are issues - managers must act. I am sure there were signs that this police officer needed help with his emotions, and I am 100% sure Sammy Yatim, age 18 needed help as well. With only a small fraction of youth age 16-24 getting any kind of mental health help. Not to mention, education, jobs, and a future. Canada must do better.
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  • I have always had difficultly understanding why one well placed shot is not enough to stop someone, and send a serious message.... that is, after trying the taser...and it was not as if the policeman was alone, facing an angry mob...the nonsense level is very high....
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  • A very sad situation all 'round. The young man shouldn't have been shot nine times, but when you wield a knife on a crowded bus or streetcar you take your chances. But for this young man's decision to behave poorly and dangerously none of this would have happened and he's still be alive.
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  • Downtown Toronto cops deal with mentally ill and agitated people every shift, sometimes all shift. To think this cop does not know how to deal with an agitated person is naive. He's been in this situation many times. This is not about "training". If that was the problem there would be corpses all over downtown. The kid was a good distance away, no obvious threat, and situations much more dangerous occur all the time with no shots fired. No - this was a cop out of control.

    I wasn't in the jury room, so I won't second guess them. But if Forcillo appeals and gets his judge-only retrial in front of a decent judge, I wouldn't be betting on him doing any better.
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  • It would appear a culture of "them and us" exists; one for citizens, and another for the police.
    Thus citizens are "them" and are suspect, regardless of realities, and the police "us", can determine if we are a threat. If we are perceived as such, it is up to citizens to prove otherwise... sometimes after being shot.

    IMHO... there was a better way of defusing the situation without reverting to such drastic measures... I'm old enough to remember when the Toronto Police would only shoot when shot at!

    The verdict in this particular case is different than ones citizens would face in court for similar incidents. There was no need to shoot once, let alone nine times!
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  • Still say, a responsible gun handler, confident in their abilities would have fired an initial shot at that close range knowing full well that it only takes one shot to bring down an individual the size of this young man. If more shots are required, then so be it. It is unnecessary to let 3 rapid fire shots go on a kid who likely weighs 170 lb. and is only welding a knife, no less from inside a street car and the cop is several feet outside. Tells me this cop should not have assess to a hand gun, never mind be paid to use it.
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  • Several years ago cops were under the "gun" so to speak for misusing tasers. How did the situation escalate within a few short years to cops having to always use hand guns, especially on people who are generally not criminals, but people in mental distress. This case is particularly bad because the cop basically emptied his gun into the youngster. It's like, once he got started he couldn't stop.
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  • I would like to see more training for our officers in regard to these type of situations
    Recognizing a person is not well mentally or whatever
    It would





    I would like to see officers try other methods with individuals, to try communicating and see if a person is willing to talk about it.
    Too many people die this way it is just not right.
    Sad day for both families.
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  • 9 bullets to stop a kid with a knife....how about a bullet to the lower body, to disable him....was he charging the constable ?
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  • How can you be guilty of attempting to murder someone with the outcome of your actions being that person's death and NOT be guilty of murder? Am I missing something?
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  • This entire "trial by youtube" process has been a joke. Did Forcillo rec've a fair trial? Should he have been charged at all?
    Yatim may've been disturbed at the time and no one deserves to be shot but our police are there to protect everyone...and EVERYONE may've been how Forcillo was thinking. Maybe Forcillo should be repremanded to some degree..and not imprisoned. Is this the same process that'll be applied to the recent shooting in Port Perry?
    Amazed at the entire thing! :-(
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  • Thanks for the comment, The Devils advocate. Small correction: It was a jury trial.
    Lots of back seat drivers here. Cops across North America are trained the same: someone with a knife or a screwdriver within 21 feet is a lethal danger. I'm not saying the second volley of bullet was reasonable....but any cops is justified to shoot until the treat is removed. Apparently, the judge believed it was not necessary.The Devils advocateat 7:45 PM

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  • Nine rounds? I won't even comment on whether or not the officer should have fired his gun at that point in time. But am I expected to believe that Officer Forcillo didn't understand that he was killing this man? Yes, it was a dangerous situation. And it should have been handled with much more expertise than was apparent. Surely the kind of deadly force used by the officer should be a last resort. And surely one or two bullets would have sufficed. Nine bullets is, as they say, overkill.
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  • Tks for the correction CBC.....really meant jury.
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  • No worries, The Devils advocate. Just happy to have you here.
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  • I think that this is the least the jury can do to send a message to the police that they cannot assume that they can deflect possibilities of injury by shooting suspects first.

    Unfortunately, a police officer should know that their line of work puts them into situations where injuries are possible. A knife, as commentor James Brown indicates is dangerous no matter what size is a weapon. However, using an excuse that it can be thrown as a reason to shoot an emotionally disturbed young man to death is just NOT reasonable.

    If they cannot do the job based upon the occupational hazards, then they need to find another line of work.

    This is akin to telling me that a firefighter who is afraid of fires should be sent out to fight fires. These people should be offered other alternatives and if it means they are retrained for other occupations, then so be it.

    Innocent lives matter as much as the police officers. No one should be more valued because of the clothes they are wearing at any particular time.
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  • What an illogical verdict!!! The victim is dead. How is that "Attempted Murder"?
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  • It's a sad day, all the way around. The girls on the bus who sat near Sammy Yetim testified they were afraid he was going kill them; one thought he killed her daughter and was too afraid to look back as she ran off the bus. The officer thought their own lives were in danger, too, when he lurched forward. No one will ever really know what it was like to have him confront them with a knife except the ones who were actually there and lived through it.

    In the aftermath it is easy to be judgmental, to dissect the evidence and to put it into perspective, but is it totally fair to those who lived through it?

    The biggest losers are the police, who might hesitate to act in a critical situation, and that hesitation could cost them their lives.
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  • The law is the law Colin. We're living in a country where the proof resides with the the accuser ( Crown). I believe that they found the initial shooting reasonable and found the other volley of bullets unreasonable under the circumstance.
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  • James Brown -- your need to come to the defence of Forcillo, along with all of the other law enforcement types who are circling the wagon to protect "one of their own", is disappointing but predictable. If you can't even agree that he should have acted different after he is convicted of attempted murder, it is just so disappointing. I despair for this country and humanity.
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  • Forcillo did what he was supposed to do - establish order in a case of terrorism. The fact that Yatim took ecstasy does not give him the right to terrorize innocent people, and does not justify his actions. He was a threat and he was dealt with appropriately.
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  • Lots of questions about the attempted murder charge. The logic behind it seems to be that Forcillo was justified in firing the first three rounds killing Yatim in the process. The next six shots were unjustified but as Yatim was already effectively dead it only amounted to attempted murder. I'm not agreeing or disagreeing here, just hoping to clear this up for some people.
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  • Seems like a compromise verdict, which I suppose was inevitable. Anyway, we at least saw a police officer charged and tried and convicted, which says a lot of good things about the system under which we live.
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  • While most of this and other similar cases is focusing on the actions of various offices, it seems to me society should be asking what is the selection process for the individuals who become police. Yes, being a police officer is a stressful job and yes, they need to make decisions quickly under trying circumstances and certainly there will be mistakes sometimes. But separating a mistake from bad judgment is important.

    Assuming police are getting good training, how do we ensure the selection process of the people who get that training is appropriate? We all know that some people have better responses to fraught situations than others. While formerly I would have had a lot of respect for and given a lot of latitude to the police there seems to me too many instances of very bad judgment which I think reflects the selection of who becomes a police officer more than the training. The overly quick recourse to force in the cases of Sammy Yatim or Robert Jakanski (not to mention many others including the most absurd one where the police three times ran over a geriatric/deaf dog thinking it was a rabid coyote!). Where are the people who can use their authority to deescalate a situation without resorting to force or violence? Why is it that we never hear of women police officers being responsible for situations like this?

    I started thinking about all this 20 years ago during a long and wild ride through north Philadelphia one night with two police officers who were trying to track down two young kids who robbed me of my bike at gun point!
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  • Hello (again) everyone:
    Ref: Toronto Streetcar Shooting Verdict (& I am somewhat bias as an ex-Police Officer with a degree in Social Work & Criminology).
    It is very unfortunate that this young man died, but think about it. This young man pulled a knife in a streetcar full of people. So what would you have the Police do - especially if you were the cop? Shooting to "wound" is a Hollywood fantasy, as you always shoot at the center of visible mass, because what if you miss? You would, in all likelihood hit someone behind this young man. Even the best handgun shooter in the world would be extremely hard-pressed to shoot to wound. If you pull a knife on a Peace Officer, &/or refuse to drop the knife, YOU have made the decision for the cop. The cop is not the one who makes the initial decision to shoot, the Perp is. You might not like hearing this, but this young man was & is responsible for his initial shooting. As a Peace Officer, when you pull your gun on a Perp, I was trained to shoot to kill. I was never trained to shoot to wound, as that is (again) a Hollywood fantasy. Also throw in that you as a cop have just seconds to make this type of life & death decision, & what do you expect us to do? As for the distance between the cop & this young man, see how fast you can cross the distance between you (with knife in hand - it is just seconds). I know this as fact, as this was one type of police training scenario I was put through). For those of you who disagree with me, then ask yourself, what you would do in this situation. You have 5 seconds. GO.
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  • There are rubber bullets, bean-bag guns, tasers, pepper spray and even, gawd forbid, TALKING that could have and should have been considered by a competent police officer! If you're that afraid of ANY situation that you come upon to the extent that killing, slaughtering the assailant before even assessing the situation is your trained response, then you really should not be a cop. Period, end of discussion. Same with the cops in Ajax that shot dead a confused, naked man with a table leg in his hand! Let's get real.
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  • Brauti added he was "concerned about a compromised jury" and said it was "trial by YouTube," a reference to the online video of the shooting taken by a bystander.

    The jury got to see the video from inside the car which no one on youtube saw, I think that kind of takes care of that argument.
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  • 1) A police officer who fears for his life to the point where he uses a lethal weapon against a person alone on a streetcar at least 15 feet away armed with a small penknife is , in my opinion , in the wrong job .
    2) I do not think that it once occurred to this officer that Mr. Yatim was one of the people he swore to protect .... nor have I heard anyone else voice this sure-to-be unpopular opinion .
    The police do have a difficult (nearly impossible) job but we cannot allow police to use lethal force in a manner such as this and the verdict is perhaps a way of appeasing both sides .... although it may do so for neither citizens nor the police .
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  • It's hard enough to be a policemen...the verdict worries me a little. I can't imagine having to make decisions like this (shoot or no-shoot) in a matter of seconds as often as they do. The last thing cops need is to worry that they're best decisions might still send them to jail. I would like to think he followed his training instinctively and not "I'm gonna kill this guy"!!
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  • So this past Sunday, our police here in Sarnia were tested with the same thing (actually worse, the guy had a 12 inch knife). Our police used a taser to bring the suspect down. He is now living. This is how you do police work. Not killing people. Helping people.

    www.sarniapolice.com
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  • In my opinion, this is another case that shows why every police officer should wear a body camera.
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  • With the distance involved, it's hard to believe the officer's life was being threatened, hence the verdict. I imagine an appeal will follow.
    (How can I find out which news topics will be coming up for discussion in a CBC Forum?)
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  • Hi, Ares. Since we can't predict the news, we decide on our CBC Forums just before they start, nine times out of 10. Stories that we can't open the comments on tend to get precedent, but there are no hard and fast rules. Thanks for your interest!
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