Officer charged in Toronto streetcar shooting granted bail
Published Tuesday, August 20, 2013 6:10AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 20, 2013 6:25PM EDT
Const. James Forcillo, the Toronto police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of a young man on a downtown streetcar, has been granted bail.
Reasons for the decision were not released, as a publication ban has been placed on the proceeding. Forcillo's lawyer, Peter Brauti, told reporters outside the courthouse that bail was set at $510,000 and that his client had surrendered his passport.
Forcillo was charged with second-degree murder on Monday following the death of Sammy Yatim, 18, who was shot dead on a Toronto streetcar on July 27. Forcillo surrendered to police early Tuesday, and appeared in court shortly afterward.
During a second appearance in the afternoon, Forcillo was brought into the courtroom in handcuffs, nodded at his wife and then only looked at his lawyer and the judge, reported CTV Toronto’s John Musselman. The bail hearing lasted 15 minutes.
About an hour after he was granted bail, Forcillo walked out the front door of the courthouse to a waiting SUV. He did not answer reporters’ questions.
Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack said outside court that Forcillo does not have a criminal record and has “an excellent policing background.”
Earlier, McCormack said Forcillo is “very upset and shocked, quite honestly. It’s been very trying on him and his family and definitely stressful.”
A closed judicial pre-trial has been set for Forcillo on Sept. 30 in Toronto.
Yatim’s family is scheduled to hold a news conference on Wednesday afternoon to address the latest developments in the case.
Forcillo was charged following an investigation by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, which probes incidents of injury or death involving police officers. Ten officers have been charged with second-degree murder or manslaughter in Ontario since the SIU was created in 1990. One incident ended in a conviction but was overturned in appeal.
Yatim’s death was captured by local surveillance cameras as well as through cellphone images taken by passersby that were then posted on YouTube. Brauti said he didn’t think the videos would make the defence of his client difficult.
“I haven’t seen all of the videos and as everyone knows when you look at something from one perspective, you can look at it from a completely different perspective and you can see something completely different,” he told reporters after the bail hearing.
Brauti said the defence has learned some new information about the case, “and it’s much different than what’s being reported.”
Earlier this month, Ontario’s ombudsman announced he was launching an investigation into provincial guidelines issued to police for de-escalating conflict situations.
Andre Marin said the investigation would look at how the province trains officers to respond to conflict situations and whether a province-wide standard is needed.
Days later, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair announced that retired judge Dennis O’Connor would review use-of-force tactics by his officers. O’Connor’s probe will include other police shootings, as well as international standards for use-of-force training.