Death of Sammy Yatim: ex-cop wants suicide theory put to jury

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Death of Sammy Yatim : ex-cop wants suicide theory put to jury

The coroner's inquest into the young man's death at the hands of Constable James Forcillo has been postponed due to a last minute request.

A friend of Sammy Yatim holds a photograph outside the Toronto courthouse during the trial of James Forcillo, who was found guilty of attempted murder of the 18-year-old young man.

Theater at the upcoming coroner's inquest into the death of Sammy Yatim at the hands of Toronto police in 2013. Defense for ex-cop James Forcillo wants present the idea that the 18-year-old wanted to take his own life through the intervention of the police.

The inquest into the death of Sammy Yatim cannot begin until Dr. David Cameron has made his decision on the motion by Mr. Forcillo's attorney to which the other parties agree. are strongly opposed.

Coroner's inquest into the death of Sammy Yatim postponed by Toronto police

L' investigation must focus on the circumstances surrounding the death of the Torontonian and the training of police officers when interacting with citizens in distress on public roads.

Sammy Yatim was shot by Constable James Forcillo on a city streetcar on the evening of July 27, 2013.

Inquest into his death follows trial criminal after which James Forcillo was sentenced to six years in prison for attempted murder.

Sammy Yatim was shot dead by Constable Forcillo in July 2013 while brandishing a knife on a Toronto streetcar.

James Forcillo was granted parole in January 2020 after being served four years in prison. He had been fired from the Toronto Police Service as soon as the guilty verdict fell.

Attorney Bryan Badali is asking for a verdict of suicide to be presented to the coroner's jury. However, there is no doubt that the verdict must be a verdict of homicide in light of the verdict at the criminal trial.

In Canada, only five verdicts are possible at the termination of a coroner's inquest: suicide, homicide, accident, natural death or undetermined death.

Dr. Cameron made no secret of his disappointment with the request, saying it hijacked the original scope of the investigation.< /p>

Police Officer James Forcillo walks out of court in Toronto during his 2016 trial.

Me Badali claims that suicide may be one of the ways Sammy Yatim died, because he was depressed and wanted to provoke the police into shooting him.

His state of mind before his death cannot be dismissed out of hand, he said.

He recalls that the victim refused to drop his knife when Constable Forcillo asked him to do so. My client had told him that he was going to open fire if Sammy Yatim took a step forward, he recalls.

Me Badali explains that the victim did not #x27;didn't understand Agent Forcillo's ultimatum, either because he didn't believe it or because he knew what he was doing. advancing towards the policeman.

It is reasonable to assume that Yatim provoked the police because he wanted to take his own life, he continues.

The province had to wait until ex-constable Forcillo had exhausted all of his legal remedies before holding the coroner's inquest.

He points out that this does not prevent the investigation from focusing on the training of police officers when they find themselves in this type of situation and that his client may indeed have failed in his duty to follow his training.

The suicide-by-police theory is not inconsistent with how to improve police training, he adds, noting that x27;he has no intention of derailing the investigation.

He recalls that the evidence in this case shows that Sammy Yatim had just been thrown into the street by his father, that he was penniless and that he had substance abuse issues.

His research on the Internet also suggests that he looked for ways to take his own life without pain.

The lawyers for the other parties have all asked Dr. Cameron to dismiss the motion, citing first the new delays it entails.

Attorney for the victim's father, Jonah Waxman, said he was disappointed because he called it a delay tactic. He adds that Sammy Yatim should be at the center of this investigation and not ex-agent James Forcillo.

He assures that the young man wanted to surrender to the police when x27;she arrived at the scene.

Agent Forcillo failed in his duty to initiate measures to de-escalate the violence and preferred to fire nine shots in his direction, he recalls, specifying that James Forcillo was found guilty of attempted of murder.

The request from James Forcillo's lawyer was filed in extremis on November 13, 2022, one day before the coroner's inquest began.

The lawyer specifies that the Ontario Court of Appeal rejected Forcillo's defense argument about suicide by police intervention This coroner's inquest is not the trial of Sammy Yatim, continues -il.

Waxman adds that the family of Sammy Yatim still cannot move on more than nine years after his death.

James Forcillo continues to blame Sammy Yatim and his gesture is revolting, he says, accusing Me Badali of seeking to rehabilitate his client in the eyes of Torontonians.

He recalls that James Forcillo never showed remorse except at the last minute when he was granted parole.

Mr. Forcillo then admitted to the parole board that he was at fault and that he had not followed his training that evening.

The lawyer adds that James Forcillo's motion undermines the conduct of the investigation and that it is an abuse of legal process.

Only the video of the events will allow the jury to understand what happened that evening, he concludes.

Sammy Yatim's mother, Sahar Bahadi, is expected to attend the hearings in coroner's court.

Attorney for Sammy Yatim's mother, Asha James, echoed the same arguments, saying his client would gladly present to the jury the condition her son was in in the hours leading up to his death.

There is no evidence that Sammy Yatim tried to provoke the police, he never asked Constable Forcillo to shoot him, she says.

Me James adds that it is also unknown if it was Sammy Yatim who researched on his cell phone ways to take his own life.

There is no evidence that he was depressed or suicidal, she concludes.

Lawyers for the Toronto Police Service and the Police Services Board also asked Dr. Cameron to dismiss the motion, saying it was dilatory, prejudicial and impertinent.

They claim that Me Badali is speculating by trying to assume that Sammy Yatim was depressed.

They add that x27;an individual may be in distress on the public highway without necessarily being suicidal and that there is no question of presenting a bad image of the victim to the jury.

Image from surveillance video of the tram Sammy Yatim was in before he was shot by police.

The lawyers finally question the moment of the request.

Mr. Forcillo had years to prepare and his lawyer did not even think to present this theory during a meeting with all parties on June 15, explains Mr. Fred Fischer, the lawyer of the commission.

Me Badali's request is insufficient, hypothetical and devoid of interest, adds Me Marianne Wright, the police department's lawyer.

Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General lawyer Mimi Singh clarifies that the video of the events in no way shows that Sammy Yatim was suicidal.

The Empowerment Council group had the strongest arguments. His lawyer, Anita Szigeti, said she was outraged by Mr. Forcillo's request.

He is not interested in this investigation or the sentence of the Yatim family, and even less to the recommendations of the jury to prevent another police officer from committing the same fault as him, she said.

The suicide theory is inflammatory and damaging, all that matters is Sammy Yatim was in a crisis that night and that doesn't mean he wanted to take his own life , she continues.

Anita Szigeti, a lawyer for the group Empowerment Council, which defends people with mental illnesses.< /p>

Mr. Szigeti emphasizes that the coroner's inquest must focus on how the police make the decision whether or not to open fire on a citizen in distress on the public highway.

James Forcillo made the wrong decision, she recalls.

She is further concerned that the Mr. Forcillo's motion be submitted after 20 years of efforts to demystify mental health and educate the public and authorities about mental health issues.

We fought to discredit this theory, which only blames the victims and absolves the police of all responsibility for the use of deadly force, she concludes.

The x27;coroner's attorney Shanna Ferrone concluded the closing arguments by reminding Dr. Cameron that a verdict of suicide could not by law be ignored without first presenting all the facts to the jury.

She adds that common sense should nonetheless guide Dr. Cameron in his decision. She also revealed a lot of evidence that should facilitate the coroner's reflection before the start of the inquest.

She recalls that Sammy Yatim's research on the Internet concerning ways to die without pain were made six months before his death and that it only proves his state of mind at that time and not the evening of his altercation with the police.

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She then explains that Sammy Yatim had managed in July 2013 to improve his life after being thrown out on the street, because the province was going to pay him social assistance, because he had found a rooming house and because he had been accepted to George Brown College in the fall of the same year.

Why would Sammy Yatim want to take his own life?, she wonders.

Little progress on use of force by police, says Ontario ombudsman

In his right of reply, Badali noted that the coroner's court would mislead the jury if his client's theory was not presented to him and that it would not serve the investigation well if he was not presented with all the circumstances surrounding Sammy Yatim's death.

Dr. Cameron has taken the case under advisement until an indefinite date.

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