The family of the Toronto teen who died after being shot at by police while aboard a streetcar is “distressed” by media reports that he was struck by eight of the nine bullets fired.
Sammy Yatim, 18, was alone on the transit vehicle and wielding a knife when police fired nine shots and then tasered him just after midnight on July 27, cellphone videos and surveillance footage show. Constable James Forcillo, a six-year veteran of the force and married father, was charged Monday with second-degree murder after a Special Investigations Unit probe into the killing.
“(Mr. Yatim’s relatives) are upset and most distressed by this news as none of this information had been previously disclosed to the family and they are unclear about how this information has come to light, or if there is any truth to it,” the family said in a statement. “They hope to get more information to clarify what is being reported.”
Constable Forcillo’s lawyer, Peter Brauti, wouldn’t comment on how the new information might impact the case before the court, but added that he’s privy to “significant” details the public hasn’t yet seen.
“We have certain information that I think is favourable to the defence,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that what’s been reported so far and what the public has at their disposal is not the full story.”
Constable Forcillo, who is out on bail after a pair of court appearances Tuesday, has been labelled the sole “subject officer” of the SIU probe, meaning the provincial agency believes his conduct killed the teenager. The unit has identified 22 “witness officers,” including the one who deployed the taser after the eight bullets struck Mr. Yatim, who died later in hospital.
Yatim family friend Joseph Nazar said the number of bullets that struck Mr. Yatim is inconsequential. “What difference does it make?” he said.
The case has riveted the city, sparking debate about police use of force and prompting several probes, including by the SIU, Toronto Police Services and the Ontario Ombudsman.