TORONTO - Const. James Forcillo, the cop charged with second-degree murder in last month’s shooting death of Sammy Yatim, was released Tuesday on $510,000 bail.
Forcillo, 30, currently suspended with pay, refused to comment as he left the courthouse.
But his lawyer, Peter Brauti, said his client was “in a very sombre mood.
“Anybody who is involved in a loss of life incident, whether you’re right or whether you’re wrong, when you’ve been involved in a loss of life, the gravity of it is incredible,” he said outside court.
Brauti acknowledged that accused murderers generally aren’t back on the street within eight hours of their arrest, but he said his client’s speedy release was warranted because of the circumstances.
“This was a case where Mr. Forcillo didn’t ask to be at the foot of that streetcar,” Brauti said. “He was on duty and he had a legal obligation to be there.”
Whether the decisions Forcillo made that night were right or wrong will be determined at trial, he said, pointing out his client should be “presumed innocent” until then.
“He’s somebody with no criminal record, he has an excellent policing background and so he’s somebody who should be released,” Brauti said.
Forcillo is poised to be the first Toronto police officer to ever stand trial for second-degree murder in connection with an on-duty death. He sat in the prisoner’s box during his bail hearing with his wife and other supporters seated behind him.
Several Yatim family members sat a few metres away.
Forcillo was released to four sureties, including his wife, in-laws and a co-worker.
His bail conditions, which the Crown did not oppose, require him to reside with his sureties and remain in Ontario.
Forcillo was among dozens of officers who surrounded a streetcar after Yatim allegedly threatened some passengers with a knife just after midnight on July 27.
The streetcar was evacuated, so only the 18-year-old was on board when cops arrived.
During the ensuing confrontation, which was caught on video and prompted public outrage, ended with Forcillo firing nine shots at the teen.
Brauti admitted he hasn’t seen all of the video footage that went viral online, but he warned about making judgements without all the facts.
“When you look at something from one perspective, you can look at it from a completely different perspective and it shows something completely different,” he said. “So it’s very early days to judge this case.
“That’s been one of the difficulties and the challenge in this case is there is a lot of people that have rushed to judgement without all of the information,” Brauti said.
He said the defence now knows more about that night and, although he couldn’t discuss details, “it’s much different than what’s being reported.”
Forcillo’s next court appearance is scheduled Sept. 30.