Toronto police Const. James Forcillo will be sentenced today for the attempted murder of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim. Last January, a jury acquitted Forcillo of second-degree murder, but he was convicted of attempted murder for continuing to shoot at Yatim while the teenager was lying on the floor of an empty streetcar in July 2013. Police were called after it was reported Yatim had exposed himself to women on the streetcar and drew a switchblade, which Forcillo repeatedly asked him to drop. Justice Edward Then will decide whether Forcillo should be subject to the mandatory minimum five-year sentence for attempted murder, but his lawyers argue the penalty is unconstitutional and should not apply to an officer on duty.
“What the judge needs to recognize is that in order to maintain our confidence in the police, is that when they run afoul of the law, when they break the law and when they commit serious crimes, they are going to be treated harshly just like anybody else would,” said criminal defence lawyer Daniel Brown in an interview with CBC’s Metro Morning.
“Regardless of whether you’re a police officer or an average citizen, when you commit that kind of significant crime, it deserves a significant punishment,” said Brown, who’s not directly involved in the Forcillo case, but was asked to comment on it.
Forcillo’s defence team is asking the court for a sentence of house arrest. The Crown is seeking eight to 10 years in prison.
Regardless of the sentence, Brown says he expects to see Forcillo walking away from the courthouse later today, as his defence team plans to file an appeal and request bail.
“Even though James Forcillo is going to be sentenced today, you can expect him to probably be back on the streets later tonight,” Brown said.
Forcillo fired two separate volleys — three shots and then six shots — at Yatim, who had consumed ecstasy before boarding the streetcar.
CBC’s Michelle Cheung is covering the sentencing hearing. Follow this blog for her up-to-the minute updates.