The mother of a teenager who was killed on an empty Toronto streetcar more than six years ago says the release of the former police officer who fatally shot her son has broken her family.
“Losing Sammy, my son, was the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with,” Sahar Bahadi said, holding back tears as she spoke to reporters Friday evening.
“However, granting Forcillo parole without notifying us of this broke us completely.”
James Forcillo was one of the first officers to arrive on scene in the summer of 2013, after someone reported that a teen was exposing himself on a Dundas Street West street car while brandishing a small knife.
Sara Ann Yatim, Sammy’s sister, said the years following the incident have been exhausting, but that learning about Forcillo’s parole had left her “furious”.
“No one told us that Forcillo applied for parole and when I did my research—you’re not allowed to apply for parole until you serve a third of your sentence. He was out before serving a third—he was out before serving two years . And no one told us so they didn’t give us a chance to fight it,” she said.
Forcillo was the only officer to open fire during the incident, shooting Yatim three times before he fell to the floor. Forcillo then fired six more shots before another officer Tasered the teen.
In 2016, a jury acquitted Forcillo of second-degree murder in Yatim’s death but convicted him of attempted murder in connection with the second volley of shots, which came as Yatim was down and dying.
He was also later convicted of perjury for claiming to be living with his ex-wife while on bail awaiting his appeal, when he had actually moved-in with his new fiancée.
Forcillo was sentenced to six and a half years behind bars for both offences.
Forcillo’s lawyers appealed the attempted murder conviction, arguing that the first and second rounds of shots were separate events. They also challenged the sentence, which was a year longer than the mandatory minimum.
Ontario’s highest court rejected the appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear the case.
In August, Forcillo was granted day parole after serving less than a third of his sentence. On Tuesday, the Parole Board of Canada said Forcillo was a low risk for reoffending and was granted full parole, a decision the Yatim family said they were not involved in.
“I gave the judicial system, the police and the lawyers the benefit of the doubt and they let me down over and over again,” Bahadi said.
Bahadi went on to question Forcillo’s conviction saying she didn’t understand why the ex-cop was only found guilty of attempted murder after her son had died.
“What I don’t understand is how can you charge him with attempted murder when my son is dead.”
The parole board panel said that there was no indication Forcillo breached the conditions of his day parole since his release last summer, which it said was “reflective of an offender with high levels of motivation, accountability, and reintegration potential.”
The board said that in addition to the officer’s improved attitude during his incarceration, Forcillo had also taken steps to balance his work life and his responsibilities at home, something he said he had struggled with in the time leading up to the 2013 incident.
Despite that, Yatim’s sister said she wants to keep fighting to get Forcillo back behind bars.
“I want to keep fighting, I want to get to the bottom off this . I want him back behind bars where he belongs. Because he was charged for a reason. He was found guilty.”
“He is still out. He can do whatever he wants. I don’t have a life, how can he have a life? He’s the criminal, I’m not. My brother is dead, I lost everything in my life. It’s not fair. My brother won’t be resting in peace until he’s back behind bars.”
With files from the Canadian Press.
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LAS VEGAS — The parents of a 3-month-old baby found dead last weekend in a North Las Vegas trash bin have been arrested on felony child abuse and destroying evidence charges, police said Friday.
Raul Ramos, 52, and Adriana Hernandez, 32, were found living in a short-stay apartment after having been evicted recently from a home near the alley where the boy’s body was found last Sunday, police Officer Eric Leavitt said.
The neighbourhood is about a 20-minute drive north of the Las Vegas Strip.
Phone calls and tips from neighbours helped identify Ramos and Hernandez, Leavitt said. They were jailed pending an initial court appearance at which they are expected to have attorneys represented to defend them. Leavitt said they don’t have attorneys yet.
The child’s name and cause and manner of death have not been made public by the Clark County coroner’s office. Police said there were no obvious injuries on the body.
Leavitt said the couple had two other children, a 2-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl, who were taken into Clark County Child Protective Services custody.
The neighbourhood is about 9 miles (14.5 kilometres) north of the Las Vegas Strip.
The Associated Press
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PHOENIX — A woman charged with murder in the deaths of her three young kids in Phoenix was the subject of several home visits by police and child-welfare authorities when she previously lived in Oklahoma, according to police reports.
The reports released Friday by police in Prague, Oklahoma, say a relative was given custody of Rachel Henry’s children for seven days in August 2018 while child-welfare authorities decided whether to take them away permanently or return them to their mother.
The children were temporarily taken away because Henry was caught at her apartment with her boyfriend, Pedro Genaro Rios, who had been accused earlier of threatening Henry and one of her children, according to the reports.
Child-welfare authorities, who were trying to get Henry into another home, had warned her that her children would be taken away if she returned to the apartment or was seen with Rios.
Henry, 22, is charged with first-degree murder in Monday’s killings of 3-year-old Zane Henry, 7-month-old Catalaya Rios and Miraya Henry, who would have turned 2 years old next week.
Prosecutors said Henry acknowledged having a history of methamphetamine addiction and that her children had previously been removed from their home by child-welfare authorities in Oklahoma due to issues related to her drug problem. Henry’s family moved to Phoenix in June.
The Arizona Department of Child Safety said it didn’t have any earlier contacts or abuse reports involving the family.
No motive for the killings has emerged. Authorities say Henry wasn’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the killings.
Attorney Alan Tavassoli, who represents Henry on the murder charges, didn’t return a call seeking comment on the criminal charges against his client and her earlier dealings with child-welfare authorities.
Efforts to get comment from Rios, who doesn’t have a listed phone number, were unsuccessful.
Court records say other people were at the home, but police declined to say whether any of them were there when the children were suffocated. No one else has been charged.
Police in Oklahoma said Henry was still living with Rios in August 2018 when an officer showed up at the home to check up on the children. Henry told police that the children were staying with a friend, but the friend said she didn’t have them on that given day, according to the reports.
Four days later, an officer and child-welfare employee went to check on the children again. Initially, Henry denied the children were in the apartment, but she finally acknowledged they were there after a baby was heard crying in a bedroom.
When Henry was asked whether she had left the children alone while she was at the store, Rios came out of the bathroom. Henry and child-welfare authorities agreed to have the children stay with a relative while it was decided whether the mother would get them back, according to the reports.
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services, which provides child protective services, has declined to provide specifics on Henry’s case, but issued a statement Friday saying the Henry case was heartbreaking.
“While Oklahoma’s confidentiality statutes prevent us from speaking to this case specifically, we can say that, in a typical case, all child welfare systems have various intervention methods to ensure child safety,” the agency said. “Many of these intervention methods do not include removal from a parent, but can include services and resources to preserve or strengthen the protective capacities of the parent or caretaker.”
The agency has declined to say whether it had a method for informing other states about parents who had run into trouble with child-welfare authorities.
Jacques Billeaud, The Associated Press
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