Rosa DiMano: Be the judge and the jury! review the video posted below of your article; "Forcillo sentencing down to a mishmash of hypotheticalts."
COURT OF THE PUBLIC OPINION: ISSUE
YOUR VERDICT IN THE EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTION OF SAMMY YATIM BY THE ASSASSIN
POLICE OFFICER JAMES FORCILLO.
Forcillo sentencing down to a mishmash of hypotheticals: DiManno
argues that it’s impossible to know what the jury was thinking in
rendering their verdict, so sentence should not hinge on it, as defense
seconds: From the moment Const. James Forcillo first laid eyes on Sammy
Yatim to the moment he pulled the trigger on his police-issue Glock.
seconds: The time that elapsed between the first volley of three shots –
including the lethal bullet – and the second volley of six shots, five
of which struck the dying teenager.
initial gunfire was justifiable, a jury concluded, acquitting the
officer of second degree murder. The subsequent gunfire was not
justifiable and Forcillo was convicted of attempted murder.
Less than a minute in all, that fateful July night in 2013, and the wreckage it left behind.
life lost, needlessly, if not for the foolishness of an 18-year-old
high on Ecstasy, brandishing a knife, the blade he’d already wielded at a
terrified passenger before everyone scrambled off the stopped downtown
life hanging in the balance, the cop who says he was only doing his
job, presented with a non-compliant armed suspect posing an imminent
Except there was no threat,
imminent or otherwise at the point of the second volley, not with Yatim
lying mortally wounded near the stairwell of the car, his spine
fractured, paralyzed from the waist down, his heart catastrophically
damaged from another bullet to the chest.
One minute that neither Yatim nor Forcillo can have back.
Article Continued Be
Yet here we are still, four months since the jury rendered its verdicts, and the lawyers drone on.
about what the jury was thinking, why they did this and not that. Going
round and round on the evidence that was heard over many weeks of
trial, both the defense and the prosecution resurrecting arguments that
have been fulsomely addressed and still there’s no agreement even on the
Those facts will ultimately be
drawn by Justice Edward Then, from the mishmash that has been presented
during this sentencing phase of trial. Those “facts,” presented in such
stunningly contradictory fashion, then further distorted via the
rhetorical mechanism of “hypotheticals” – not what happened here but
what might have happened somewhere else, under completely different
circumstances (the chronically battered wife who keeps firing a gun even
after her tormenter has been stopped dead in his tracks but one of the
preposterous comparisons offered) – must be weighed by Then in deciding
The Crown is seeking a prison sentence
of between six and eight years, well beyond the mandatory five year
minimum for attempted murder with a restricted weapon. The defense,
which has simultaneously launched a constitutional challenge on minimum
terms as they apply to a police officer duty-bound to protect the
community, thus the five-year benchmark “grossly disproportionate” to
the offense – is asking for house arrest: No prison time and, if a
suspended sentence, no criminal record either.
Like it never happened.
The circular arguments continued on Tuesday.
out of the chute, lead Crown Milan Rupic argued that, essentially, the
Constitutional argument is irrelevant. “There’s no need to decide the
constitutional issue because (Forcillo) should get more than the minimum
five years,” he told Then, adding the bench is “sitting as a trial
judge, not as a royal commission presiding over interesting matters.’’
Then: “Do you agree with the facts?” Meaning, the facts as defense lawyer Peter Brauti had spun them in his at-bat last week.
Rupic: “No I don’t.’’
distill Brauti’s submission: The jury clearly believed Forcillo was
justified in shooting Yatim, with the first volley; it was at some point
in the second volley that they drew the line. Count 1, acquittal on the
murder, should therefore impact – alleviate -- the context of Count 2,
conviction on attempted murder.
Except it’s all conjecture. We don’t know what the jurors were thinking. They can’t even be asked.
“You should not try to trace possible logic that a jury may or may not have followed to get to that verdict,” said Rupic.
Crown, which deliberately – and, as it turned out, cleverly – divided
the two separate volleys, now posits that the event should, for the
purpose of sentencing, be viewed as a “single transaction,” extending
from the moment the hot-shot went over the police radio, to Forcillo
emerging from his cruiser, drawing his weapon outside the streetcar
door, swearing at Yatim, repeatedly ordering him to drop the knife,
firing three times and then firing again six more times with the
teenager down. Ostensibly, as Forcillo testified, because Yatim had
flicked his knife menacingly (before the first volley) – though this is
debatable; all that’s visible on video is the teenager moving his
switchblade marginally – and then, when felled, was trying to re-arm
(brushing the dropped knife towards his torso) and lift himself up to
continue the attack, as the officer saw it.
once, from beginning to end, had Forcillo attempted to de-escalate the
confrontation, Rupic stressed. That, he argued, is part and parcel of
police training – to calm things down, verbally at first.
Then pointed out: “Six seconds of assessment.’’
That’s all the time Forcillo had to make his decision on the second volley.
It was also all the time Forcillo gave himself.
Then: “Are you saying if de-escalation had been tried, this could have been avoided?”
Rupic: “A sincere effort at the outset could have avoided the sequence of events that led to bullets being fired.’’
had been hurt yet when Forcillo took his weapon-drawn position.
Frightened, yes, but not hurt. There were at least a dozen other
officers behind him. His own partner had holstered her gun. No victims,
“Officer Forcillo used profanity to intimidate,” said Rupic. “It was an unnecessarily aggressive and emotional approach.’’
A bully, said Rupic.
all those nice character references submitted on Forcillo’s behalf last
week, what a swell guy he is, don’t amount to a hill of beans. Same cop
who, as he testified, had pulled his weapon “about a dozen times”
during three and a half years on the job, totally out of statistical
whack with most of his colleagues.
Rupic: “Reference letters don’t shed light on whether he acted like a bully in this case.”
One heedless youth. One go-to-gun cop. One tragic minute.
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.