Toronto

James Forcillo says he shot Yatim because he thought teen was about to attack

Const. James Forcillo told a packed Toronto courtroom Wednesday he fired the first set of nine shots at Sammy Yatim because he thought the teen was in the process of getting off the streetcar.

Toronto police officer charged with 2nd-degree murder in shooting of Sammy Yatim

Const. James Forcillo, charged with 2nd-degree murder in the shooting of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim last July, has pleaded not guilty to all charges. (CBC)

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  • Forcillo tells jury officers are trained to draw their guns if someone draws a knife.
  • Officer says he was trained to fire as many times as necessary to incapacitate a threat

​Const. James Forcillo explained why he fired nine shots at Sammy Yatim on an empty streetcar to a packed Toronto courtroom Wednesday.

"The first sets of shots were fired because I believed Mr. Yatim was armed with a knife and was in the process of coming off the streetcar at me," Forcillo, 32, told Ontario Superior Court.

"The second shots were fired because I believed Mr. Yatim was in the process of getting off the streetcar to continue his attack."

"I never wanted to kill anybody," Forcillo said.

Forcillo, who said he wanted to be a police officer from the age of 12, testified at his trial for second-degree murder and attempted murder in the 2013 death of 18-year-old Yatim.

Court has heard the first volley hit the teen's heart, severed his spine and fractured his arm as he fell to the floor of the streetcar. There was a brief pause and then six shots followed, including those that hit Yatim's abdomen and penis.

Knife-defence training

On Wednesday, the jury was shown a police training video on defending against knife attacks, and Forcillo said that officers are trained to draw their guns if someone pulls a knife.

The father of two young daughters said he was given one class in dealing with knife-wielding assailants, and was instructed to "draw your firearm, keep your distance and watch his hands" when someone is approaching with an edged weapon.

Jurors were also shown a slide presentation of the Ontario Police College's outdoor shooting range. Using a paper target, Forcillo showed the jury where officers are trained to shoot at an assailant's so-called "centre of mass."

Last week, Robert Warshaw, an American expert in police use of force, told the court that Forcillo had many options at his disposal, including dialogue with Yatim, using pepper spray to disable him, or waiting for the sergeant with a stun gun to arrive.

Warshaw acknowledged that there was a risk to attempting other de-escalation techniques, but testified that he didn't believe officers were at undue risk.

Peter Brauti, Forcillo's lawyer, has told the jury that the officer and Yatim, who was armed with a knife, were too close together during the incident for Forcillo to do anything but shoot the teen in self-defence.

Forcillo, who has pleaded not guilty to both charges, is expected to continue testifying Thursday.

With files from Canadian Press

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