TORONTO -- A city cop will appear in a downtown courtroom Tuesday to be officially charged with second-degree murder in last month's high-profile shooting of a knife-wielding 18-year-old on a TTC streetcar.
Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) began probing Sammy Yatim's death after he was shot multiple times in a July 27 confrontation with police -- a shooting that was caught on video and posted online, sparking public outrage.
SIU Director Ian Scott announced in a statement Monday there are "reasonable grounds to believe that (Const. James Forcillo) committed a criminal offence."
It's believed Yatim threatened female TTC passengers -- a knife in one hand and his penis in the other -- as the streetcar travelled along Dundas St. W., just after midnight.
The streetcar was stopped near Bathurst St. and evacuated by the time police arrived to confront the lone remaining rider.
Multiple videos of the brief confrontation, which attracted national attention after the footage was posted on YouTube, showed several officers surrounding the streetcar.
One officer is seen standing with her hands on her belt just outside the streetcar's front doors while two male cops stood further back with guns drawn.
Cops repeatedly ordered Yatim to drop the knife as he stood near the driver's seat, the blade glistening in the darkness.
One of the male officers, now identified as Forcillo, fired three shots. A nearby security camera captured the teen as he fell backward and lay motionless on the floor of the streetcar.
Seven seconds later, the same officer squeezes off another six rounds. Yatim's lifeless legs jerk with each shot.
Nearly two minutes later, another officer arrives with a Taser, enters the streetcar and appears to zap the already downed teen.
"Our family hopes that the SIU investigation will continue looking into the actions of the supervising police officer(s) and the other officers in attendance for their lack of intervention in this tragedy," Yatim's family said in a statement. "Over 20 uniformed police officers were present and no one stepped forward to stop the gunshots or offer any mediation."
Upon Upon hearing the news earlier in the day, Yatim's sister, Sarah, 17 tweeted: "The SIU charged the cop with 2nd degree murder!!! Good morning JUSTICE."
Toronto Police refused to comment because the matter is before the courts.
But Toronto Police Association (TPA) president Mike McCormack reacted to the news with slight disdain.
"We're disappointed, but not surprised by the SIU's decision," he said.
McCormack said given the amount of "public pressure" and the TPA's "past experience" with the police watchdog, he expected Forcillo would be charged.
But the police union boss was "taken aback" to learn the charge is second-degree murder.
It's not like it happened away from the job, McCormack said, pointing out the shooting occurred while Forcillo was executing his duties as a police officer.
"But (the SIU) has made the decision and now it's before the courts, so we'll see where it goes," he said, adding the union remains "confident in the process."
Forcillo, who has six years service, was out of town Monday.
McCormack said he spoke to Forcillo, who was aware the SIU issued a warrant for his arrest.
"He's devastated and he's shocked to have that type of charge hanging over his head," McCormack said.
The SIU said Forcillo's lawyer, Peter Brauti, made arrangements for his client to surrender Tuesday morning at an undisclosed location for security reasons.
"Because Const. Forcillo has been the recipient of threats, we are not disclosing the location of the arrest," Scott said.
Forcillo will make his first court appearance at Old City Hall Tuesday morning to set a date for his bail hearing.
The accused, who is suspended with pay, will then remain in custody awaiting that proceeding.