go to content

Here's Why James Forcillo Was Found Guilty Of Attempted Murder But Not Murder

The Toronto cop fatally shot Sammy Yatim in 2013.

Posted on

James Forcillo, the Toronto cop who killed 18-year-old Sammy Yatim in 2013, was found guilty of attempted murder on Monday.

Nathan Denette / The Canadian Press

Yatim was alone on the streetcar and armed with a knife when Forcillo fired nine rounds at him, hitting the teenager eight times. Yatim died from his injuries.

The jury, though, found Forcillo guilty only of attempted murder, but not the more serious charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter — even though everyone agrees that Forcillo did in fact kill Yatim.

Pretty much everyone was confused with the verdict.

How can you be guilty of attempted murder but not of murder of the guy who died??? This seems very confusing #Forcillo

Help me out. How is Forcillo guilty of Attempted Murder but not Guilty of manslaughter, murder, etc? Sammy Yatims dead. I am so confused.

Forcillo guilty of attempted murder, but not of second degree murder, even though Sammy Yatim was killed. Do I have that right?

People tried to puzzle through it.

How does someone get charged with attempted murder after succeeding in killing the person they "attempted" to murder? #Forcillo

Forcillo was found not-guilty of 2nd degree murder, but found guilty of attempted murder. How is it attempted murder if Yatim died?

The reason for the confusion is that the charges were about different parts of the shooting. Forcillo shot Yatim three times and then, after a five-second pause, fired his gun six more times, hitting the teenager with five of those rounds.

YouTube / Via youtube.com

The murder and manslaughter charges related to the first three shots, which killed Yatim. The attempted murder charge related to the second volley.

The jury found Forcillo guilty for attempted murder for firing those additional shots, but cleared him of the more serious charges related to the first volley, which the defence argued was fired in self defence.

No Ontario cop has been convicted of homicide in the line of duty since at least 1990, when the Special Investigations Unit was set up specifically to probe serious incidents involving police officers.

Yatim's mother Sahar Bahadi thanked the judge, jury, and prosecution for their work during the trial. In a statement, she said she wants to help change police training policies "so this painful incident does not repeat again."

Nathan Denette / THE CANADIAN PRESS

"Nothing in this world will compensate me for the loss of my son nor will anything bring him back to me 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."

As Now magazine wrote in December, the Crown's legal strategy was a big risk, likely hinging on the fact that juries are reluctant to convict police officers. Adding the attempted murder charge gave the jury an out.

Worth noting: #Forcillo may have walked on all charges, had Crown not added the attempted murder charge at late stage.

An attempted murder conviction carries a minimum sentence of four years. Forcillo's lawyer Peter Brauti said after the ruling that he filed a stay of proceedings arguing an abuse of process. The defence is also considering an appeal.

Forcillo remains free on bail for now. He was on administrative duty with the police force but will now be suspended with pay, Toronto police chief Mark Saunders said at a press conference Monday.

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.