TORONTO (Reuters) - A Toronto policeman charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of an 18-year-old who brandished a knife on a streetcar was released on C$510,000 ($491,000) bail on Tuesday.
Outlining a rare murder charge against an on-duty police officer, the Toronto police force’s Special Investigations Unit said on Monday it had grounds to believe that Constable James Forcillo broke the law in the death of Sammy Yatim.
The late-night shooting was filmed by bystanders and widely distributed online. It prompted Toronto’s Chief of Police Bill Blair to say he was looking for answers and to promise a “thorough review.”
One clip viewed more than 800,000 times on YouTube shows a figure on a streetcar, near the car’s open doors and apparently alone. Someone yells “drop the knife” several times. Then there are nine loud bangs.
“Mr. Forcillo didn’t ask to be at the foot of that streetcar. He was on duty, and he had a legal obligation to be there,” Forcillo’s lawyer Peter Brauti told reporters, after he was asked whether it was unusual for someone charged with murder to be granted bail so quickly.
Second-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison in Canada, but with the possibility of parole. Canada has no death penalty.
($1 = $1.0387 Canadian)
Additional reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Eric Walsh