Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Closing Ranks Behind Officer Forcillo

The right wingers seem to have settled on their talking points for Jimmy Forcillo, the Toronto cop who executed Sammy Yatim on a Toronto streetcar last month.

The first point is to contend that there's no justice in convicting Forcillo of the execution.

The second point is the claim that Yatim died in a "hail of gunfire."  It's a "hail" of fire, a blur, who can tell, who can judge?  Except that's a lie as anyone who has watched the videos knows.

The third point is that Forcillo is being thrown to the mob.  Public emotion is riding so high there's no way he can be treated fairly.  Hence the executioner is now the victim.

And it's all bollocks, especially the "hail of gunfire" linchpin on which this rests.

Forcillo took his time emptying his automatic's nine-round clip into Yatim.  It was no hail of gunfire.  He fired over a very extended 13-seconds, first round to last.

Forcillo dropped Yatim to the floor of the streetcar with his first, 3-round salvo that took all of two seconds.  Yatim went down, apparently with the first of those three rounds, never to get back up.  Call it the First Event.

What followed was a nearly 5-second long pause.  No movement, no gunfire.  No hail of any description.   Call that the Second Event.

The remaining almost six seconds were filled with the remaining rounds in Forcillo's handgun.  A salvo of four shots, a pause, the eighth shot, a pause, the ninth and final shot.   Call that the Third Event.

I saw these events.   You saw them.   So did Blatchford et al.  It's easy to say that the eyes play tricks on us.  Fortunately I didn't use my eyes to hear those gunshots.   I used my ears to hear them and my mind plus the YouTube counter to log them, to time the three events.

The right and its greasy minions like Blatchford are quietly coming to Forcillo's defence and it speaks volumes that they're bringing arguments based on lies.  It's people like Blatchford playing on emotions because of just one thing - Forcillo is a cop.  He's one of her tribe and he thus deserves the "hail of gunfire" defence.


Anonymous said...

Send Christie back to Afghanistan, so she can report back to us about the flowering, peaceful democracy paid for with the lives of a hundred and fifty plus Canadian kids.

The Mound of Sound said...

Actually, I was thinking that it was curious for Christie, after her Afghan experience, to call Forcillo's gunplay a hail of anything.

Anyong said...

The person who tasered Sammy after he was on the ground already dead huh?...was it Forcillo's superior? This man ought to be in court as well. What was the intent of the taser after the suspect was shot nine times was it?

Rene said...

The Reformer's version of "law and order" is some Alberta Sheriff beating senseless some petite, unarmed, non-threatening immigrant dentist for some minor traffic violation, whose only weapon was her mouth and whose apparent offence was being mistaken for some third world immigrant cleaning lady or convenience store clerk....

The Mound of Sound said...

Yeah, Rene, I read about that Edmonton woman. Her bruises and that "divot" over her eyebrow were damning. It's vital to a functioning, democratic society that we expunge this sort of brutality and that can only be done by giving these uniformed, armed thugs serious prison sentences. They should get much longer sentences than a civilian would receive because the assault is compounded by breach of trust.

crf said...

I wonder if, feeling he was mortally wounded after the first volley, Yatim asked to be killed? Or maybe Forcillo decided to execute him after seeing that he'd mortally wounded him? Or maybe Forcillo wasn't thinking straight after the first shots.

It's most important to focus on why the first shots were fired. What happened afterward wouldn't have otherwise occurred.

Lorne said...

Excellent analysis of language, Mound. If I were still in the classroom, I would use it as an adjunct illustration/teaching tool associated with Orwell's "Politics and the English Language."

The Mound of Sound said...

@ CRF. Chris what if Yatim had somehow asked to be killed? Remember, Forcillo wasn't alone. He had an armed officer to his immediate right and another to his immediate left. If Forcillo had heard such a plea so too would those other officers. You would be suggesting that those two other cops and others in the vicinity sat by and allowed Forcillo to administer a coup de grace. No, that's still murder in Canadian law.

Your second argument, the 'mercy killing' defence won't wash either. That's still the coup de grace. Remember that Canadian infantry captain in Afghanistan who did the same thing to a horribly wounded Talib fighter.

I agree that the first, 3-round salvo is important. Forcillo's counsel will argue that it was a justifiable shooting. He has no other choice. Yet that's not determinative of the final six-shots.

Were I his counsel I would want to be able to argue that he died from the first three shots and that, therefore, the final six don't really matter. Force the Crown to prove that Yatim was still alive when the shooting resumed at second 8. If they can't prove he was alive then Forcillo could be entitled to the presumption that he offed Yatim with those first rounds. You can't kill somebody twice.

The problem with that defence comes from that black and white CCTV video. It is taken from a perspective that looks into the bus from above. The two cell-phone videos are taken from street level.

In the black and white video, you can see Yatim's legs as Forcillo empties his gun. You can see his legs recoil as Forcillo's rounds hit Yatim. The kid was still alive as Forcillo continued to fire into him.

And then there's the business of the second cop who boards the bus through the rear doors after the gunplay is ended. He moves up to Yatim, leans over and Tasers the victim. It's a reasonable, sensible interpretation that the Taser cop saw some signs of life in Sammy Yatim after the firing had concluded.

I could be wrong but I suspect this multiple-event scenario is driving this "hail of gunfire" narrative. Forcillo's team needs to obscure that five second interval, eliminate it as a consideration.

The cops have claimed their training teaches them to keep firing until the target is no longer moving. They're not justifying that. They don't have to and, in fact, that would be risky. What they're saying is that Forcillo was only following official procedure. Here they're glossing over the fundamental distinction between target and threat.

Yes, cops in danger of life-threatening harm are allowed to keep shooting until the threat is neutralized. If some burly logger is bearing down on you with an axe you keep shooting until that situation is resolved. Yatim was not bearing down on anybody. He never got past the driver's station. He never got into the stairwell.

I expect Forcillo's defence team will plea-bargain this out. It's hard to imagine them wanting to force it to trial given the 15-year mandatory minimum for 2nd degree. My guess is they'll go for a plea on manslaughter and six months max if they can't get a deal on house arrest and community service.

kootcoot said...

I suggest we establish a Law Enforcement Hall of Shame. I nominate Monty Robinson and Forcillo for membership.