Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Not A Moment Of Humility Or Uncertainty

I have avoided writing about the semi-acquital of Sammy Yatim's killer, Officer James Forcillo, partly because it sickens me when miscarriages of justice occur. Adding insult to injury is his lawyer's attempt to get his conviction for attempted murder stayed
...because Forcillo “substantially followed his training,” which was provided by the state.

“The state,” he said, “should be disentitled to a conviction because they . . . provided the training to him.”
Even more upsetting is the reaction of the police union, which you will see in a moment. But first, I'd like you to take a look at a clip about an execution perpetrated by the Cleveland police three years ago; especially offensive is the reaction of their union which, as you will see in the second clip, has some eerie echoes of Toronto police union head Mike McCormack's comments on Forcillo's conviction.

MsCormick laments that it sends a chilling message to front-line officers, as well it should. Unfortunately, the real message they will refuse to process is that when they violate their oath to serve and protect, they will be held accountable by the state, however imperfectly.

Humility, not police outrage, would be the proper reaction in both the Cleveland and Toronto cases.


  1. Don't blame the defence lawyer for doing his job, blame the judge if you don't like the ruling.

    1. It is more the union response I am upset about, Gyor. By the way, it was a jury trial, so the judge did not make the ruling.

  2. .. the slow motion process of the Forcillo trial re the killing of Sammy Yatim has come to a temporary junction point. the toronto newstalk jocks can't get enough of expert opinion, so called public sentiment & various views from officialdom. In the past I described my own experiences, to the estimable Mound.. wherein I was called upon to deal with emotionally disturbed teens, drug addicted teens and triple maximum security juveniles.. I was never armed by the way.

    Sammy Yatim was troubled, delusional & psychotic.. 1/2 of a collision looking for the other 1/2 .. that's very clear via video evidence, medical history & post mortem toxicology. He was 'out there' .. 'crispy' & as likely to try and swim to Rochester as he was to confront a dozen armed police.

    But the killing is really about fearful Forcillo, a known hothead cop who'd pulled his gun a dozen times in 3 years. So lets keep the event very very concise, shall we? Most anyone has seen the various videos of Sammy Yatim's last moments & is aware of Forcillo's 'defense'.

    Of course I'll paint it in a slightly different light.. as I've been there, done it, got the t-shirt.. dealing with delusional drug addled teens.. with a weapon.. and nobody died!

    Forcillo and his female partner arrived on scene as a seemingly damn cool TTC driver gave up and left his streetcar. 'Taking charge' .. so to speak, Forcillo confronted the teen from a close but safe distance, shouting profanity laden 'orders' as his memory challenged partner holstered her weapon.

    In the midst of numerous armed cops beside and around him, Forcillo feared for his life, such was the threat of knife wielding Sammy Yatim, up there inside a streetcar. Really now? Armed cops standing on either side of him, behind him, at the rear doors etc.. and Forcillo thought the teen could fly like a witch and get to him from the streetcar, without descending the steps & covering the 10 foot gap to that crowd of armed cops?

    Forcillo exemplifies 'failure' .. the 'fearful' defense is so limp that its to laugh at.. but the Force must close ranks. In reality I suspect other cops curse Forcillo on a daily basis. The idea that his 'training' was to do what he did in approx 50 seconds of disastrous failure is to laugh at. Somewhere right near the bottom of the Toronto Police hires in the last 5 years is Forcillo.. a weak link deserving to drive a desk.. maybe in data entry or vehicle maintenance.. To let him deal with the public, much less ever own a gun again would be a travesty.. Amen, end of story.

    1. Thanks for putting this sordid case into a perspective we can all relate to, Salamander. I am going to take the liberty of featuring them in a separate post.

  3. I'm not satisfied the judge handled the case correctly either, Lorne. The judge issued revised instructions to the jury after they had deliberated that, to me, sounded bizarre.

    The whole theory of whether this was one or two shooting events was confusing. The coroner testified about the nature of the wounds inflicted at the outset, when Yatim had been standing, contrasted with the subsequent wounds from bullets that struck a prone victim. Wound paths are readily traceable.

    As I understand it the forensics suggested the initial three wounds were mortal. Yatim would have died without more. How then to treat the next five wounds? The Crown chose to treat that as attempted murder.

    In firing squad executions is the coup de grace administered after the initial volley a separate event? I don't see it that way. It's collateral to the first shots.

    I think an appellate court might order a retrial. I suspect that better Crown counsel might rethink the prosecution theory and look beyond the 5-second pause.

    If, as the video suggests, Yatim collapsed with the first shot, were the second and third really justified? Was the first shot warranted unless Yatim made some clear move to exit the streetcar such as stepping into the stairwell? That, to me, was the obvious threshold to the "self defence" business.

    I think the Crown may have muddied the waters and left the judge to deliver an incoherent, confusing charge to the jury. Were I sitting on the appeal I think I would set aside both verdicts and direct a new trial.

    1. Thanks, Mound. Your legal experience helps us better assess what transpired here. Like the Salamander's above comments, I am taking the liberty of putting yours in a separate post.