Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sammy Yatim's Accused Killer Back On The Job

While the presumption of innocence is fundamental to our justice system, common sense and public sensibilities are always unspoken elements of the equation. This is clearly seen, for example, in jury selection, a good part of which is designed to ferret out and exclude from participation those with prejudgments that could affect the rights of the accused to a fair trial.

With that preamble and proviso out of the way, what I express in the following is simply my opinion, a perspective informed by news coverage of the accused and the aforementioned common sense and public sensibilities.

I have written several past posts on Sammy Yatim and related matters of police abuse of their authority. Yatim, readers will recall, was the 18-year-old whose death at the hands of police on July 27, 2013, was captured on video. While holding a knife in an empty streetcar, presenting no immediate threat to the many police who were on scene, Yatim was shot to death by Const. James Forcillo, who was later charged with second-degree murder.

Now, incredibly, just a few days after the beginning of his preliminary hearing, word has arrived that Forcillo has been back on the job since February.

The decision to have Const. James Forcillo return to duty — after a seven-month suspension with pay — was made by Chief Bill Blair.

“The chief, using his discretion, made the decision to lift his suspension and since February he has been assigned to administrative duties here at headquarters,” spokesman Meaghan Gray confirmed Wednesday. “He is not in uniform and his job does not require any use-of-force options.”

A close Yatim family friend, Joseph Nazar, was stunned by the news:

This is a betrayal by the police chief,” Nazar said. “This officer is charged with murder and he’s working in a police station?

“If this is true, we’re not going to sit quiet about it,” he added.

Police union head Mike McCormick, “fully” supports the chief’s decision to lift Forcillo’s suspension.

“We encourage management to find meaningful work for suspended officers when possible, as long as any risk has been mitigated,” McCormack said. “And it actually happens quite frequently.”

He said it’s good for the officers, the service and taxpayers.

What McCormick failed to acknowledge is that it's not so good for the pursuit of justice, fosters the perception of a blue brotherhood with more contempt than concern for the public, and betrays an egregious disdain for a still-grieving family that will never again embrace their loved one.


  1. Replies
    1. The optics here, double nickel, suggest that your olfactory nerve is in top-notch working order.

  2. I thought that suspensions applied until the matter was settled. Something is amiss.

    1. They seem to make up the rules as they go along, don't they, Owen?