Toronto cop who shot Sammy Yatim wants case heard at Supreme Court of Canada

Toronto cop who shot Sammy Yatim wants case heard at Supreme Court of Canada

Const. James Forcillo is currently serving a six-year sentence for the attempted murder of Yatim, the 18-year-old killed in a hail of Forcillo’s bullets in a 2013 shooting that prompted nationwide outrage about police use of force.

After a high-profile trial, a jury returned a rare verdict finding Forcillo guilty of attempting to murder the man he killed — a conviction made possible by the Crown prosecutor’s decision to divide the officer’s two distinct volleys of bullets into separate criminal offences.

Earlier this year, Ontario’s Court of Appeal called the verdict “unusual, if not unique” but nonetheless unanimously upheld the conviction.

Forcillo’s lawyers are now seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, arguing in part that Crown prosecutors did not establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Forcillo’s volleys of bullets were entirely different incidences, and not just one continuous event.

In attempting to have the case heard at Canada’s highest court, Forcillo faces an uphill battle. On average, about 11 per cent of the applications to have an appeal heard at the Supreme Court are granted; in 2016, just 50 of the 526 applications went ahead. Those applying to the Supreme Court of Canada must show the issue proposed in the appeal is of national importance.

Forcillo’s lawyers are also asking the Supreme Court of Canada to revisit the constitutionality of the mandatory minimum sentence for attempted murder involving a firearm. They have previously argued that Forcillo’s six-year sentence, one year above the mandatory minimum, was never intended to be applied to a police officer or anyone else armed by virtue of their employment.