The family of a teenager shot to death by Const. James Forcillo say were stunned after the Toronto police officer was granted day parole less than two years into his sentence.
Forcillo was convicted of attempted murder in 2016 in the killing of Sammy Yatim, which took place in 2013 on a Toronto streetcar. He has served 21 months in prison, a term that began in November 2017 after a lengthy appeal process.
Yatim, 18, was wielding a knife before Forcillo fatally shot him.
Forcillo fired two volleys of shots at Yatim, the second of which hit Yatim while he was lying on the floor of the streetcar and dying.
A judge handed Forcillo a six-year sentence following the unusual verdict by the jury, which also found Forcillo not guilty of second-degree murder.
In its decision, the Parole Board of Canada said Forcillo’s time in prison has been “productive,” and that he has admitted fault in the shooting and expressed remorse over Yatim’s death.
“You acknowledged that you should have waited for a higher ranking officer capable of using alternative methods and used your communication skills to de-escalate the situation. You believe that you rushed your decision-making contrary to your training,” the written decision reads.
“In the board’s view, this acknowledgement of responsibility and expression of remorse was genuine.”
The parole board’s decision means Forcillo will be moved to a community residential facility, also known as a halfway house, for six months. The facility will be in a smaller community away from Toronto, at Forcillo’s request, though a location has not been determined.
Yatim’s family not informed
Yatim’s family said they were not informed that the parole board was considering Forcillo’s case.
“To us it was a surprise; we’re shocked,” said Ed Upenieks, the family’s lawyer.
The family learned about the decision after being contacted by the media, Upenieks said.
If they had been invited to participate in the hearing, he said the family would have argued that Forcillo’s remorse is not genuine.
“We would have presented evidence to the fact that he showed no remorse whatsoever. He was given ample opportunity during the trial,” Upenieks added.
“This seems to be a self-serving attempt to facilitate his release.”
Forcillo has been ordered not to contact Yatim’s family during the six-month parole period.