TORONTO — A jury will resume its deliberations today in the case of a Toronto police officer charged with murder after gunning down a teen on an empty streetcar.
Const. James Forcillo has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and attempted murder in the death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim.
The July 2013 incident was captured on cellphone videos which went viral online, sparking anti-police protests in the city and a review of Toronto police tactics.
The jury determining 32-year-old Forcillo's fate has to decide whether he ignored other viable use-of-force options and acted as "a hothead and a bully" when he shot Yatim, or whether he pulled the trigger in self-defence.
Crown prosecutors argued Forcillo's actions weren't necessary or reasonable, while his lawyer called those actions justified and carried out in self-defence.
Superior Court Justice Edward Then, who presided over the case, told the jury to keep an open mind to arrive at a just verdict.
The jury has heard that Yatim had taken the drug ecstasy before boarding a streetcar where he exposed himself and pulled out a small knife, sparking a panicked exodus.
Videos and audio played at the trial have shown that Forcillo arrived on the scene, screamed repeatedly at Yatim to drop the knife, and after a 50-second confrontation fired nine bullets at the teen in two separate volleys.
Forcillo took the stand in his own defence, saying he never wanted to kill anyone but feared an imminent attack from the knife-toting Yatim, which was why — in accordance with all his training — he fired his gun.
The Canadian Press