‘I’m not going to forgive him’: Sammy Yatim’s mother says inquest into fatal shooting is opening old wounds

The family of a Toronto teen shot and killed by a Toronto police officer more than a decade ago is speaking out as the coroner's inquest into his death enters its fourth day. Tina Yazdani reports.

Sammy Yatim’s mother says she will never be able to forgive the officer who shot her son, but she will have to learn to sit through it.

Dr. Sahar Bahadi spoke exclusively to OMNI News Arabic amid a coroner’s inquest into the fatal shooting of her son more than ten years ago. An inquest that Bahadi says is reopening old wounds for her and her family.

“The wound is not healing at all. This has increased the pain,” she says. “I still can’t believe that Sammy is gone forever.”

Yatim, who was 18 years old at the time, was shot multiple times by Toronto police Const. James Forcillo while standing alone holding a small knife on a TTC streetcar on July 27, 2013.

Forcillo was the only police officer to open fire on Yatim, firing three shots that caused him to fall to the ground followed by a second volley of six more shots.

The inquest has revealed the former officer had been flagged for gun use before the incident and drew his firearm five times in the eight months leading up Yatim’s death.

“He doesn’t know how to de-escate,” said Bahadi, referring to Forcillo. “I’m sure if he asked Sammy, ‘what’s your name?’ the result would not have been like that.”

Sarah Yatim, Sammy’s sister, sat alongside her mother during the interview added that she feels Forcillo was not fit to be an officer.

“My brother would have been alive if any other officer took lead,” she said. “I expect better training. Cops should be protecting us.”

In 2016, a jury acquitted Forcillo of second-degree murder related to the first round of shots but convicted the officer of attempted murder related to the second volley. Forcillo was sentenced to six and a half years behind bars and began serving prison time in 2017 after an unsuccessful appeal. He was granted full parole in 2020.

Bahadi says she wasn’t notified of Forcillo’s parole and instead learned about it through the media.

“I was watching the TV and I heard it,” she says, adding the family had no opportunity to fight the decision.

The coroner’s inquest began Friday and has already heard from Yatim’s parents and sister, who urged jurors to recommend more support for families in their situation.

Police de-escalation training ‘far superior’ today, Sammy Yatim inquest hears

An officer who witnessed the killing of Yatim took the stand on day three of the coroner’s inquest into his death with jurors hearing police training for de-escalation is far superior today than it was in 2013.

The high profile incident sparked change within the Toronto Police Service, according to officer Matthew Hoy, who was just nine weeks on the job when he responded to the incident with Forcillo.

“I would be better prepared by the training offered now,” said Hoy in his testimonial. “The service has learned a lot from situations like the streetcar shooting. The new recruits are getting far better training now with regards to de-escalation.”

Hoy also said frontline officers were never trained on how to step in if another officer was seen overstepping their bounds.

“Now there is scenario-based training,” he said. “You have to be able to step in and stop them.”

“I think as a service we are far better than we were 10 years ago. I hope we continue to learning from our mistakes.”

Bahadi says she hopes that real improvements have been made, but added she still hears about instances of officers using weapons.

“I’ve found that many people don’t respect the police,” she says. “It’s good to behave properly for the public, just to have that respect. The police have to protect us.”

The inquest was scheduled to be held in November 2022 but was delayed after Forcillo argued that it should examine the possibility Yatim died by “suicide by cop” – a theory rejected by the presiding coroner.

Jurors are expected to hear from Forcillo next week.

“It hurts,” said Bahadi, when asked if she is prepared to hear him speak about the incident during the inquest. “I’m not going to forgive him. Never.”

“I will listen to him to see if he shows any kind of remorse now, because he didn’t before.”

Members of the public can view the proceedings through an online video stream.

With files from Tina Yazdani and The Canadian Press

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