Toronto Police Const. James Forcillo did not have much to say after his guilty verdict of attempted murder was read out in court Monday afternoon, his lawyer Peter Brauti said.
Brauti told the media outside the Superior Courthouse at 361 University that he and his client had spoken about the verdict as phase one of the their work together. Brauti said the next phase for the Forcillo camp is filing a motion for a hearing to the stay of proceedings against Forcillo.
“Stay of proceeding happens after finding of guilt but before conviction is registered and essentially this entitles the state to a conviction because of an abusive process,” Brauti said. “We say that the abusive process is Constable Forcillo substantially followed the police training he was given and so if the state gave him that training they should not be entitled to a conviction of the matter.”
A hearing date for Brauti’s application has been set for May 16. While Forcillo was found guilty attempted murder in the shooting death of 18-year old Sammy Yatim in July 2013, his conviction on that guilty verdict and his sentencing cannot proceed until Brauti’s application is heard and there is decision on that application made by the courts.
Brauti also told the media about his disappointment on the decision by the judge to dismiss the suicide by cop theory. He said it was a huge part of the Forcillo defence and that it would’ve had an effect on the jury. Brauti also said that the YouTube video of the shooting was a disadvantage to the defence team as the video affected the jury’s opinion of the case.
“Well what I think it started off as a trial by YouTube, because what we know is within seven minutes of the incident taken place, it was posted all over YouTube,” Brauti said. “All kinds of negative comments what have taken place before they heard the officers side of the story.”
Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack said that the jury’s verdict sends a chilling message to the frontline officers and it’s going to be a challenge for them to deal with the issue.
“Well that’s a big concern for us. Are they gonna hesitate when they should take action and what does this mean as far as frontline enforcement when we have officers out there facing the same situation,” McCormack said. “I’ve already had a lot feedback from our frontline officers and they are shocked and dismayed by this verdict.
“My concern right now is for our members to go out there and continue to do the great job that they do and for them to understand also that this is far from over and we’re going to continue to pursue justice for officer Forcillo,” McCormack said.
Sammy Yatim’s mother Sahar Bahadi said the verdict marked a move forward.
“For me, it’s the first step,” a sombre Bahadi told the media yesterday. Reading from a statement, Behadi said she wanted to be part of the discussion to change police training policies.
“Nothing in this world will compensate me for the loss of my son nor will anything bring him back to me,”Bahadi said. “But I would like, for the sake of this great country, for the police to remain a source of confidence, security, and respect for all people.”
The Yatim family’s lawyer Julian Falconer told the media that the verdict reflects the terrible internal conflict the community feels on policing. He said the verdict sends a loud message that the community wants to see good policing and hold bad policing accountable.
“It’s only the evolution of public mentality, the realization that there’s good police officers and bad police officers that’s starting the change things,” Falconer said. “It shouldn’t be us against the police anymore, it should be us the community, along with good police officers, all against bad policing.
“Today should be a shameful day. We should all be ashamed that it took all of these to get focus on what they’re doing,” Falconer said on the police’s use of force.
Sammy Yatim’s father Bill Yatim said in a statement that the events on July 26, 2013 changed their lives forever. He said there are no words to describe the pain of losing his son on that day.
“The…trial of Const. Forcillo has been a taxing and emotional journey for me with many days where the evidence being presented was just unbearable. I am relieved that Const. Forcillo has finally been found guilty,” Yatim said.
“The criminal proceedings are not the end. I am hopeful that all of the recommendations of the Honourable Mr. Justice Iacobucci in his Independent Review of the Lethal Use of Force by the Toronto Police Service will be fully implemented.”
Forcillo is out on bail until the motion to stay proceedings May 16.
For more about what happened on Monday, watch the video below.