TORONTO – The family of an 18 year old who died after being shot by police on a Toronto streetcar says they are “distressed” by reports the young man was hit by eight bullets.
The Special Investigations Unit has said Sammy Yatim was shot “multiple times” and Tasered, and has charged Const. James Forcillo with second-degree murder in his death.
Yatim’s shooting was captured on surveillance and cellphone videos, on which nine shots can be heard following shouts for him to drop a knife.
The Toronto Sun and the Toronto Star are now reporting that their sources say eight of those shots actually struck Yatim.
A spokeswoman for the coroner’s office says they can legally only disclose information about their investigations to family members and others involved.
The family released a statement saying they have no knowledge or information to verify the media reports as they haven’t seen a copy of a coroner’s report.
“They are upset and most distressed by this news as none of this information had been previously disclosed to the family and they are unclear about how this information has come to light, or if there is any truth to it,” reads the statement, released by a family spokeswoman.
“They hope to get more information to clarify what is being reported.”
Forcillo, 30, appeared in court Tuesday morning after surrendering to authorities on an arrest warrant that was issued on Monday. His lawyers made a speedy bail application and Forcillo was free that afternoon on $510,000 bail.
Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack — who attended Forcillo’s court appearance — said this has been a stressful time for the officer, who has received death threats.
In addition to the SIU’s investigation, Toronto’s police chief has said retired justice Dennis O’Connor will lead a separate review of police procedures, use of force and police response to emotionally disturbed people in the wake of Yatim’s death.
Ontario’s ombudsman has also launched an investigation, probing what kind of direction the provincial government provides to police for defusing conflict situations.
Forcillo’s next court appearance is Sept. 30, when he will return to provincial court for a judicial pre-trial.