NEWS

Officer charged in Sammy Yatim shooting to surrender today

08/20/2013 07:17 EDT | Updated 10/20/2013 05:12 EDT
The Toronto police officer facing a second-degree murder charge in the fatal shooting of Sammy Yatim aboard a streetcar last month is expected to surrender and appear in court today.

- Sammy Yatim murder charge sparks strong reaction among Canadians.

- Yatim's family 'relieved' officer facing murder charge.

- 7 unanswered questions about the Toronto streetcar shooting.

The Special Investigations Unit – Ontario’s police watchdog – says Const. James Forcillo will enter custody today at an undisclosed location in an arrangement made with his lawyer. In a Twitter message issued Monday, the SIU said it opted for the secret surrender because death threats have been made against Forcillo on social media.

After his arrest, Forcillo, 30, is expected to appear in court.

On Monday, the SIU announced it would file second-degree murder charges against Forcillo for his role in the July 27 shooting that killed Yatim, 18, an incident captured on videos that have been viewed more than a million times online.

On videos of the shooting, nine shots can be heard, seconds after shouts for Yatim to drop a knife. The final six shots appear to come after Yatim had already fallen to the floor of the streetcar, and he is then Tasered.

It's not known how many of the shots hit Yatim, but the SIU has said he was shot multiple times.

The videos sparked outrage and prompted hundreds to take to the streets in two separate marches, demanding justice for Yatim.

His family released a statement Monday saying they are relieved by the charge, but hope the SIU will look into the actions of the supervising officers and other officers who were on scene "for their lack of intervention in this tragedy."

"Over 20 uniformed police officers were present and no one stepped forward to stop the gun shots or offer any mediation," the family wrote.

"Moving forward we expect complete transparency and accountability. We want to work now to ensure that Sammy's blood wasn't wasted and to prevent any other families from enduring such a tragedy."

'No winners in this,' says police union president

Toronto police union president Mike McCormack said Monday that Forcillo is upset about the charge, but neither he nor Forcillo were surprised.

“There’s no winners in this,” McCormack told CBC News. “It’s a lose-lose situation for the family and our officer. Our officer is definitely a casualty of this incident."

This is only the second time a Toronto police shooting has led to a second-degree murder charge. The first was in 2012 in connection with the death of Eric Osawe during a raid at an apartment in 2010, and also followed an SIU investigation.

However, the judge at Const. David Cavanagh's preliminary hearing threw out the murder charge and also discharged the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Second-degree murder implies intent to kill the victim. The Crown brings a manslaughter charge when it does not believe the killing was intentional.

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