In January, a jury found Toronto police constable James Forcillo guilty of attempting to murder Sammy Yatim. They concluded that the first set of bullets he fired may have been justified but that the second — fired while Yatim was already dying on the streetcar floor — was not.
Today, Justice Edward Then sentence Forcillo to six years in prison, beyond the Criminal Code’s mandatory minimum of five years for attempted murder with a firearm. Forcillo’s lawyer, who’d argued that the minimum was unconstitutional and was never intended to apply to police officers, had asked for two years less a day of house arrest. The Crown wanted a jail term of eight to 10 years.
Constable Forcillo can now finally be suspended without pay. Ontario’s Police Services Act, which is currently under review by the province, only allows a police chief to suspend an officer without pay once he or she is convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. Such a suspension can continue even while the conviction or sentence is being appealed, which is likely in this case. It’s not out of the question that, given the constitutional arguments around mandatory minimums, the matter could end up being decided by the Supreme Court.
Only after all avenues of appeal are exhausted may the police service commence disciplinary proceedings against Forcillo to actually get him dismissed from the force.
UPDATE (4:15 pm): The Toronto Police Service put out a press release this afternoon confirming that James Forcillo has now indeed been suspended without pay.
The Superior Court of Ontario has also posted the full text of Justice Then’s reasons for the sentence, which you can read below. They’re pretty damning.