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Toronto Jury sees four videos of Sammy Yatim’s final minutes on streetcar

Sammy Yatim holds a knife while on a Toronto streetcar on July 26, 2013, in this still taken from a court handout surveillance video.

HO/THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ontario Superior Court of Justice

Warning: This story contains disturbing footage

As Sammy Yatim lay prone on the floor of a streetcar after having been shot eight times, police officers can be seen in video footage continuing to yell at him to drop his knife, including a Toronto police sergeant who then entered the vehicle and discharged his taser at the young man.

After the taser was deployed, at least four officers rushed up the steps of the vehicle to handcuff Mr. Yatim. He had been shot in the heart and the groin, and was paralyzed as a result of one bullet severing his spine.

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The images of the final moments of the 18-year-old man's life are captured on a series of surveillance videos taken inside the Toronto Transit Commission streetcar, where Mr. Yatim was killed during a confrontation with police in the early morning hours of July 27, 2013. The four videos were shown to the jury on Wednesday at the Ontario Superior Court trial of Toronto police Constable James Forcillo, 32, who is charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder in the death of Mr. Yatim.

The surveillance images are the first of several videos of the incident that will be shown to the 12 jurors, including two videos that were taken by civilians outside the streetcar.

The TTC surveillance videos have not been shown publicly before, except at the officer's preliminary hearing, where they were subject to a publication ban. The ban is no longer in place now that they have been seen by the jury.

Mr. Yatim is first seen on the silent surveillance video boarding the streetcar on Dundas Street West at about 11:45 p.m. on July 26, 2013. The first video shown to the jury was from an overhead camera, focused primarily on the front door of the vehicle and the area beside the driver.

A number of other people also board the streetcar in the next 10 minutes, on what was described as a busy summer night in downtown Toronto. One of the passengers boards with a bicycle.

A few minutes before midnight, the videos show a panicked crowd of about 20 people rushing the front door and struggling to exit. The cause of the commotion was Mr. Yatim, the jury heard, after he unzipped his pants at the back of the streetcar and exposed his penis. He also waved a switchblade with a 10-centimetre-long blade at a female passenger, although no one was physically injured.

Within seconds of the last passenger exiting, Mr. Yatim can be seen at the front of the streetcar, gesturing angrily toward the street with the knife and continuing to grab his exposed penis with his other hand.

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For about 60 seconds, the driver of the streetcar is seen speaking with Mr. Yatim. The young man is then out of the picture as the driver walks down to the bottom step, appearing to look to see if police have arrived. The driver walks up to the top step again, but then suddenly jumps out after Mr. Yatim makes a sudden motion with the knife in his right hand.

Police arrive at midnight. Constable Forcillo and his partner can be seen just outside the front door. While his partner quickly holsters her weapon, Constable Forcillo and another officer continue to aim their weapons at Mr. Yatim.

For a few seconds, Mr. Yatim raises his arms in an apparent surrender toward the front window. But he quickly drops his arms and turns to the front door, above the top step of the vehicle with the knife still raised in his hand. At this point, the jury has heard that he mocked police and refused to drop his knife.

Constable Forcillo can be seen on the silent video mouthing "drop the knife." Mr. Yatim walks backwards, then as he turns and walks forward, near the front step, his body flies backward as the officer fires a first volley of three shots, less than 60 seconds after he first engaged with the high school student.

About five seconds later, six more shots are fired by Constable Forcillo. The prone body of Mr. Yatim flinches during the second volley of shots. Constable Forcillo starts to board the vehicle but is pulled back by another colleague. Thirty seconds later, the officer with the taser arrives, yells at Mr. Yatim to drop his knife and then discharges the weapon.

The trial, which began Tuesday and is expected to last two months, continues Thursday.

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