Tag Archives: James Forcillo

Killer Toronto Cop James Forcillo’s Appeal Begins: Seeks Bogus Suicide-By-Cop Excuse

On Monday, October 2, 2017, killer Toronto Police Constable James Forcillo began the appeal of his conviction in the shooting and killing of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim on July 27, 2013.  Forcillo’s lawyers asking the Ontario Court of Appeal to reconsider an interpretation of the killing and the timing of shots fired by Forcillo.

In 2016, a jury acquitted Forcillo of second-degree murder but convicted him of attempted murder after he shot and killed the distraught Yatim, who was isolated and alone on a Toronto streetcar. Forcillo shot the stricken youth after he had fallen down from the first shots, leading to the attempted murder charge and conviction (since Yatim was incapacitated when he was shot what other motive was there to keep shooing?). Forcillo was sentenced to six years in prison but remains free on bail until possibly 2018 pending the outcome of his appeal.

Forcillo’s lawyers disagree with instructions from Justice Edward that allowed the jury to consider the killer cop’s first three shots as a separate event from his next six shots. They occurred five-and-a-half seconds apart, the second volley coming after Yatim had already fallen from a fatal shot to the chest.

Even more disturbing Forcillo’s lawyers are also appealing the conviction on the grounds that they were denied the opportunity  to frame Yatim’s killing as an attempted suicide. This ploy seeks to make use of the dubious and despicable “suicide by cop” excuse used often by police officers, forces, and police associations to justify and legitimize police killings of civilians. It has interested copagandist “criminologists” (typically current or former cops) ready and willing to promote the excuse in court on behalf of (fellow) officers. The lawyers argue that because Yatim wanted to die, less lethal interventions from Forcillo would not have worked. Forcillo lawyer Joseph Wilkinson argued at the Monday hearing that the trial judge should have allowed the evidence to “counterbalance” the Crown’s view that Sammy Yatim was a “person in crisis” who Forcillo could have dealt with without deploying  lethal force. This excuse always  seeks to remove the conscious decision of officers  to shoot someone even in cases, like that of Sammy Yatim, the victim is alone and isolated and poses no direct or immediate threat to the public or officers. The officer has the opportunity to decide and still chooses to shoot to kill. That is not suicide by any definition.

The case is being heard by a three judge panel consisting of Chief Justice George Strathy, Justice David Doherty, and Justice Gary Trotter.

Advertisements

Killer Toronto Cop James Forcillo Has Bail Extended to 2018

Toronto police constable James Forcillo shot and killed Sammy Yatim in 2013. Forcillo shot Yatim multiple times, firing even after the stricken youth had fallen dead. At the time Forcillo shot Sammy Yatim, the distressed youth was isolated and completely alone on a Toronto streetcar posing no threat to police or the public (as captured on witness video of the killing). For this Forcillo was sentenced in 2016 to six years behind bars, for attempting to kill Yatim (but curiously not for murder). That sentence was a rarity for killer cops in Canada, who are rarely charged and almost never convicted as the state protects the state in such cases.

Forcillo has been out on bail as he appeals the verdict and sentence. On Friday, September 29, 2017, Forcillo was granted a bail extension. A bail extension document states that the appeal process will contain a “fresh evidence phase.” The previous bail conditions for Forcillo were set to expire on Sunday, October 1, 2017, one day before the killer cops is scheduled to appeal his conviction for attempted murder in killing Sammy Yatim. Forcillo will now remain free either until the day before that hearing or until April 2, 2018 (whichever comes first).

Killer cop Forcillo is asking the appeal court to substitute a not-guilty verdict or to  order a new trial in his case. Forcillo, a member of an institution that favors and promotes mandatory minimum sentences, is also seeking a declaration that the mandatory minimum sentence for attempted murder is unconstitutional (erstwhile proponents always want mandatory sentences dropped when they come close to home). Instead Forcillo wants to be granted a suspended sentence. Otherwise he seeks a reduction of his sentence to the minimum five years.

Incredibly, Forcillo’s appeal wishes to have arguments presented arguing for the bogus and discredited “suicide by cop” justification for police killings. This is a piece of propaganda, or copaganda, used to  excuse or legitimize police killings of civilians. It is a mechanism for blaming the victim and removing a killer cop’s responsibility in deciding to shoot and kill someone who may have been in distress, even where they posed no threat to the public or to officers (as in a youth alone in an empty streetcar). It is despicable and nasty ploy by police and their supporters. Unfortunately there are unprincipled “criminologists” for hire (usually active or former cops) who are willing to promote this copaganda in courts to defend killer cops.


Killer Cop James Forcillo Appeals Conviction for Killing Sammy Yatim on Bogus “Suicide by Cop” Claim

The notion of “suicide by cop” is a phony construct devised as a cynical ruse to excuse killer cops and get them off the hook when they kill civilians. The problems with this notion have been detailed and analyzed repeatedly in this project. Applied after the fact and in a range of instances, including those in which the cop killed someone who posed no threat to police or the public, the excuse covers up killings which are in no way suicides. If a police officer chooses to shoot someone who is isolated from the public and poses no threat to anyone, that is not suicide. If the cop has a choice not to kill, that killing is not a suicide. Saying it is denies the dignity of the victim who has not chosen to  end their own life. It has been consciously ended for them. Without consent. Suicide by cop is in these cases purely propagandistic.

Yet killer cops, their departments, and police associations routinely trot this piece of copaganda out in diverse circumstances. Such is the case of Toronto Constable James Focillo who shot 18-year-old Sammy Yatim multiple times while the youth was all alone and readily contained on an inoperative and empty streetcar. Forcillo was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to six years in prison for the 2013 killing of Yatim. Forcillo is now appealing his conviction on the basis that testimony arguing for “suicide by cop” in Yatim’s case was excluded from the trial. The testimony was provided from cop “criminologist” Rick Parent of Simon Fraser University who has built a tidy side career on justifying “suicide by cop” claims by his colleagues who kill.

The suicide by cop claim is ludicrous in this case. First, Yatim was alone and contained and posed no threat to the public or police. Secondly, Forcillo fired two distinct volleys of multiple shots at the youth, pausing before shooting the second volley even after the young man had fallen dead from the first round of shots. Clearly not a suicide. Forcillo had multiple opportunities not to shoot and to stop shooting. There is no way to construe that as a suicide on Yatim’s part.

Forcillo, who is currently on bail pending the appeal, is asking for a not guilty verdict or a new trial. Forcillo is asking the appeal court, which is set to hear his case this fall, to substitute a not-guilty verdict or order a new trial. The killer cop is also seeking a declaration that his mandatory minimum sentence for attempted murder is unconstitutional, and seeks a suspended sentence. Absent these outcomes he wants his sentence reduced to the minimum of five years.


Toronto Police Killing of Alex Wettlaufer: The One No One Worried About

When Toronto police pointed their guns at Alex Wettlaufer, the 21 year old was alone, isolated, and afraid. His family heard his fear as they spoke with him by phone moments before he was fatally shot by police.—Paramedics were called to the scene at 11:34 PM. Taken to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Alex Wettlaufer would die of his wounds in the early morning of March 14, 2016.

Police were reportedly responding to reports of two men fighting at the Leslie subway station in the late evening of March 13. How this would lead them to confront and kill Alex Wettlaufer in a park, Villaways Park, blocks away is not readily known.

What is known is that police claims about the confrontation, and the claim that Wettlaufer had a weapon, do not mesh with what family members heard over the phone as the young man plead with police to lower their weapons.

Wettlaufer was speaking with his family by phone moments before he was fatally shot by police. According to his mother, Wendy Wettlaufer: “He was crying, saying that he’s being surrounded. They kept telling him to put the weapon down, and he kept hollering telling them he didn’t have a weapon” (quoted in Wilson 2016)

According to his sister, Melissa Wettlaufer: “He told them it was just a phone, but they shot him anyway” (quoted in Gillis 2016). His loved ones heard him tell the police he only had a phone and try to get them to put their guns down.

Responding to police claims, the victim’s mother said: “Alex does not carry a gun, he’s never had a weapon, and he (doesn’t) own a weapon” (quoted in Wilson 2016).

His sister insisted that her brother had a lot to look forward to in life and would not have jeopardized it by challenging police. Not while he was waiting on word of his acceptance into the army, hoping to follow in the footsteps of his late father “Shorty.” In his sister Melissa’s words: “He is not really a fighter and he wouldn’t have turned around and ruined everything because he was going into the army” (quoted in Wilson 2016).

People who knew the young man agreed that they knew him as someone who worked hard at school. He was described as being serious in his approach. Alex Wettlaufer’s sister-in-law put it like this: “He was the one no one worried about” (quoted in Campbell 2016).

Wettlaufer’s brother noted that his younger sibling worked in a factory and had never had any run-ins with the law prior to being shot and killed by police. His brother described him as a quiet man who did not even use social media. He believed he had never touched a gun (Campbell 2016). According to his brother, who preferred not to be named: “He kept to himself and was never in trouble” (quoted in Campbell 2016).

A neighbor, Lilieth Rankine, who has known the Wettlaufer family for years, and lives in the same housing complex on Leslie north of Sheppard, remembers the victim fondly. In her view: “He’s a good kid, went to school, finished school. I don’t get it . . . What happened? Can you imagine what the community is going through?” (quoted in Gillis 2016).

Another family friend Diane Storm similarly remembered Alex Wettlaufer as focused with specific personal goals in life. In her words: “He was quiet, kept to himself … (he wanted) to get out of here, to get out of housing” (quoted in Gillis 2016). Storms suggests, ominously, that the stigma and attention that young men in the community receive from police posed ongoing, real, and potentially fatal barriers, for young residents. She suggests: “When you are trying to improve yourself, it doesn’t help when you have this stigma” (quoted in Gillis 2016).

Sadly, Wettlaufer was a classmate and friend of Sammy Yatim, a young man infamously shot and killed by police while he was completely alone and isolated on a Toronto street car. The officer who killed Yatim, James Forcillo was convicted of attempted murder in a curious verdict (“attempted murder” even though he actually killed Yatim) following a rare case of a police officer in Canada actually being brought to trial for killing someone.

The Wettlaufer family reported that their loved one was simply returning home after visiting his girlfriend at the time police confronted and killed him. His brother said he was walking through the park after taking his girlfriend to the subway station.

Family friend Diane Storms was shaken by the killing. She asks: “Can you imagine, talking to your child on the phone, then hearing gunshots? And then silence?” (quoted in Gillis 2016).

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which probes incidents of death, serious injury, and allegations of sexual assault involving police, has been investigating the killing since Monday morning.  Four investigators and three forensic investigators have been assigned to the case.

 

Further Reading

Campbell, Will. 2016. “SIU Probes Death of 21-Year-Old Shot by Police in North York.” Global News. http://globalnews.ca/news/2575972/siu-investigating-after-man-injured-in-north-york-shooting/

Gillis, Wendy. 2016. “Man, 21, Dead after Police Shooting.” Toronto Star. March 16. http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2016/03/14/one-dead-after-shooting-in-north-york-allegedly-involving-toronto-police.html

Wilson, Codie. 2016. “SIU Investigating after Toronto Man Killed in Police Involved Shooting.” CP24. March 14. http://www.cp24.com/news/siu-investigating-after-toronto-man-killed-in-police-involved-shooting-1.2815962