Toronto

Officer convicted of shooting Sammy Yatim wants Supreme Court to hear his case

Const. James Forcillo is asking the Supreme Court of Canada to allow him to appeal his second-degree murder conviction in the shooting death of Sammy Yatim five years ago.

Const. James Forcillo was found guilty of attempted murder in the 18-year-old’s shooting death

Const. James Forcillo wants the Supreme Court of Canada to hear an appeal of his conviction of attempted murder in the shooting death of Sammy Yatim. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Const. James Forcillo is asking the Supreme Court of Canada to allow him to appeal his attempted murder conviction in the shooting death of Sammy Yatim five years ago.

Forcillo's lawyers, Michael Lacy, Joseph Wilkinson and Bryan Badali, filed the application seeking an appeal on June 26.

In an unusual verdict, a jury acquitted Forcillo of second-degree murder but convicted him of attempted murder in connection with Yatim's death aboard a Dundas streetcar on the night of July 27, 2013. Forcillo was sentenced to six years in jail — one year above the mandatory minimum for attempted murder.

Forcillo was one of the first officers to respond to a call about a young man exposing himself on the streetcar while brandishing a knife. Only Yatim was left on the streetcar by the time police arrived in the early morning hours of a warm night.

Forcillo was the only officer to fire his weapon. He fired an initial three shots, which caused Yatim to fall to the floor of the streetcar, then fired a second volley of six more shots.

The shooting was caught on video, which circulated widely and sparked a national discussion about use of force by police.

The Crown separated the two volleys into two separate charges: the second-degree murder charge was related to the first volley of shots, and the attempted murder charge was for the second.

Forcillo was convicted for the latter.

Appeal previously denied

In April, the Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed Forcillo's appeal of both his conviction and his sentence.

In the new appeal to the country's top court, Forcillo's lawyers question whether the Crown proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the two sets of shots were separate incidents. The lawyers are also questioning the constitutionality of the mandatory minimum sentence for attempted murder with a firearm.

"While the circumstances may be unique, the Applicant's conviction raises fundamental questions about the necessary elements the Crown must prove in order to convict an accused of an attempt to commit an offence where there is no issue that the offence has been completed," the lawyers write.

In May, Forcillo had six months added to his sentence after he pleaded guilty to perjury for lying under oath when he applied for a bail variation that would have changed his primary address.