NEWS

Forcillo 'A Hothead And A Bully,' Says Prosecutor

01/07/2016 11:46 EST | Updated 01/07/2016 11:59 EST

TORONTO — A Crown prosecutor says a Toronto police officer who gunned down a teen on an empty streetcar was "a hothead and a bully'' at the time of the confrontation which resulted in the youth's death.

In closing arguments at the officer's trial, Crown lawyer Milan Rupic says Const. James Forcillo wanted to assert his authority over a "mouthy, mocking teenager'' rather than trying to build a rapport with a person in crisis.

Rupic says Forcillo had a number of alternatives when he came face-to-face with Sammy Yatim in July 2013, and it was "not necessary and not reasonable'' for the officer to shoot the 18-year-old.

Forcillo has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and attempted murder in Yatim's death — an incident which triggered outrage across the city two and a half years ago.

james forcillo

Toronto police Const. James Forcillo arrives at court for the prosecution's closing arguments in the shooting death of Sammy Yatim, in Toronto, on Jan. 6, 2016. (CP)

His lawyer has argued in his own closing statements that Crown prosecutors are trying to "criminalize a judgment call'' made by a first responder.

The defence, in calling for Forcillo's acquittal, says the officer's actions were justified and carried out in self-defence.

The jury has heard that Yatim had taken the drug ecstasy before boarding a streetcar where he pulled out a small knife, sparking a panicked mass exodus after the vehicle came to a stop.

Surveillance video and audio played at the trial have shown that after a 50-second confrontation in which Forcillo yells repeatedly at Yatim to "drop the knife,'' the officer fires nine bullets at the teen in two volleys.

"During his standoff with Yatim the defendant was a hot head and a bully,'' said Rupic. "He wore the uniform of a police officer but he did not act like a police officer.''

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