Former Toronto cop who shot Sammy Yatim to death on streetcar in 2013 granted full parole

A police officer who fatally shot a distraught teenager on an empty Toronto streetcar more than six years ago has been granted full parole, with officials noting his progress reintegrating into society.

In a written decision released Tuesday, the Parole Board of Canada said James Forcillo is a low risk for reoffending and has shown a high level of motivation and accountability while on day parole.

The two-member board panel said Forcillo, 37, no longer requires ongoing psychological counselling, which had been a condition of his day parole. But it renewed a restriction barring him from contacting any of the victim’s relatives, in order to “prevent any further trauma” to the grieving family of Sammy Yatim.

sammy yatim

“Your actions took the life of a much-loved son, brother, and member of the community. His loss continues to devastate the family. You acknowledge the trauma that you have caused the victim’s family and that you continue to reflect upon the harm that your actions caused,” the panel wrote.

“With the benefit of counselling, you now understand that your own fear, impulsivity, and stress contributed to your poor decision-making, poor problem-solving, and resulted in fatal consequences. As a result, you are now more cautious of the impact of your decisions and are better able to consider the consequences of your actions.”

Forcillo was convicted in 2016 of attempted murder in the shooting of Yatim, who was 18. He was later convicted of perjury for claiming to be living with his ex-wife while on bail awaiting his appeal, when he had in fact moved in with his new fiancee. He was sentenced to a total of 6 1/2 years behind bars for both offences.

James Forcillo

The parole board panel said 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 former officer’s attitude improved during his incarceration and he now shows “no immediate need” in that area, the panel wrote.

It also said Forcillo has taken steps to balance his work life and his responsibilities at home, something it said he struggled with in the time leading up to the shooting.

“As you are now aware that a balanced lifestyle is … necessary in ensuring your safe reintegration, you are focused on maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle. In particular, you spend your free time studying or attending the gym on campus,” it wrote, adding Forcillo has also maintained relationships with his children.

Forcillo is now enrolled in a full-time college program with the goal of becoming an electrician, the document said. “Your success and high marks demonstrate your motivation and commitment to your chosen field,” it said.

Forcillo was one of the first officers to arrive at the scene in the summer of 2013, after someone reported that a teen was exposing himself on the streetcar while brandishing a small knife. By then, Yatim was the only person left on the streetcar.

Sammy Yatim

Forcillo was the only officer to open fire, firing three shots that caused Yatim to fall to the floor of the streetcar, followed by a second volley of six more shots. Another officer then Tasered the teen.

A jury acquitted Forcillo in 2016 of second-degree murder in Yatim’s death, but convicted him of attempted murder in connection with the second volley, which came as Yatim was down and dying.

His lawyers appealed the conviction, arguing the first and second volleys the officer fired were artificially divided into discrete events. They also sought to challenge his initial six-year 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.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020.

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By The Wall of Law January 21, 2020 Off

Meghan Markle And Prince Harry Have A Long, Special History With Canada

Last week, the Queen confirmed that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will live part-time in Canada, as the Royal Family fleshes out the details of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s post-royal life.

Markle and her son, Archie, have been living in Victoria since they went on their Christmas break last year, and Harry, who was in the U.K. for over a week to attend previously arranged engagements and discuss his and his wife’s new roles with the Queen, just landed in Canada last night to reunite with his family.

Although Harry told the audience at a fundraiser for his charity Sentebale on Sunday that, “The U.K. is my home and a place that I love. That will never change,” we don’t know yet just how much time the duke and duchess will actually spend in England, especially as reports note that staff at their Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage, have been reassigned elsewhere.

Before they got engaged, Harry and Meghan spent a lot of time together in Toronto, where Meghan lived for seven years. They made their public debut as a couple at the Invictus Games in Toronto (seen here), where they watched a wheelchair tennis game at the city's Nathan Phillips Square on Sept. 25, 2017.

Since the couple’s announcement that they would be stepping down as working members of the Royal Family and splitting their time between the U.K. and North America, there have been a lot of questions about how they would live and work in Canada. In short, it’s complicated

But, we do know that both Harry and Meghan share a love for the Great White North, and in truth, Canada has always been a special place for the couple. 

See the reasons why below:

In October, 1991, Prince Harry, seven, visited parts of Canada with his brother, Prince William, his father, Prince Charles, and his mum, Princess Diana. In this photo, Diana and her boys are on a boat at Niagara Falls.

Harry Toured Parts Of Canada As A Child

In October, 1991, Prince Harry, seven, visited parts of Canada with his brother, Prince William, his father, Prince Charles, and his mum, Princess Diana. In this photo, Diana and her boys are on a boat at Niagara Falls.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

During their tour of Canada, Harry and William were given hats by the crew of the Canadian frigate HMCS Ottawa after they toured the ship on the Toronto waterfront. Oh, and they also wore adorable jean-on-jean outfits.

Prince Harry (And Prince William) Mastered The Canadian Tuxedo

During their tour of Canada, Harry and William were given hats by the crew of the Canadian frigate HMCS Ottawa after they toured the ship on the Toronto waterfront. Oh, and they also wore adorable jean-on-jean outfits.

Mirrorpix via Getty Images

During a family holiday at the Whistler Mountain Resort in B.C., Harry, William, and Charles hit the slopes in March, 1998.

Harry Hit The Slopes In Whistler

During a family holiday at the Whistler Mountain Resort in B.C., Harry, William, and Charles hit the slopes in March, 1998.

Tim Graham via Getty Images

Before she became one of the most famous women in the world, Meghan starred in the TV show "Suits," which filmed in Toronto. She played paralegal-turned-lawyer Rachel Zane on "Suits" for seven seasons.

Meghan Markle Worked In Toronto

Before she became one of the most famous women in the world, Meghan starred in the TV show “Suits,” which filmed in Toronto. She played paralegal-turned-lawyer Rachel Zane on “Suits” for seven seasons.

USA Network via Getty Images

Meghan rented this Toronto home while she was filming "Suits." It was here where Harry would visit his then-girlfriend before they moved in together. After she moved to London, the house sold for $1.6 million.

She Also Lived In Toronto

Meghan rented this Toronto home while she was filming “Suits.” It was here where Harry would visit his then-girlfriend before they moved in together. After she moved to London, the house sold for $1.6 million.

HuffPost

While living in Toronto, Markle adopted her dog, a beagle named Guy, from a rescue in Milton, Ont. Guy also had a "brother," Bogart, who Markle had to leave behind when she moved to London because he was too old to travel. However, Guy was by Markle's side when she moved in with Harry in Nottingham Cottage. Meghan was photographed this week walking her two dogs, and although we can't be sure, one of them looks like Guy.

Meghan Adopted A Beagle From A Local Rescue

While living in Toronto, Markle adopted her dog, a beagle named Guy, from a rescue in Milton, Ont. Guy also had a “brother,” Bogart, who Markle had to leave behind when she moved to London because he was too old to travel. However, Guy was by Markle’s side when she moved in with Harry in Nottingham Cottage. Meghan was photographed this week walking her two dogs, and although we can’t be sure, one of them looks like Guy.

A Dog’s Dream Rescue Facebook

Back in her "Suits" days, Meghan partied with her co-stars Gabriel Macht, Gina Torres, Patrick J. Adams, and Sarah Rafferty at the InStyle and Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Toronto International Film Festival Party on Sept.11, 2012.

Meghan Partied At The Toronto Film Festival

Back in her “Suits” days, Meghan partied with her co-stars Gabriel Macht, Gina Torres, Patrick J. Adams, and Sarah Rafferty at the InStyle and Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Toronto International Film Festival Party on Sept.11, 2012.

George Pimentel via Getty Images

While living in Toronto, Meghan became best friends with Jessica Mulroney, a celebrity stylist and wedding planner, who is married to Ben Mulroney, the son of former Canadian prime minister, Brian Mulroney. Here, the friends posed for a photo at a World Vision event in Toronto on March 22, 2016.

Meghan’s Close Friends Live In Canada

While living in Toronto, Meghan became best friends with Jessica Mulroney, a celebrity stylist and wedding planner, who is married to Ben Mulroney, the son of former Canadian prime minister, Brian Mulroney. Here, the friends posed for a photo at a World Vision event in Toronto on March 22, 2016.

George Pimentel via Getty Images

In our first glimpse of Meghan as Harry's girlfriend, we watched as she cheered on her boyfriend as he made a speech at the Invictus Games' opening ceremony in Toronto on Sept. 23, 2017.

Meghan Cheered On Harry

In our first glimpse of Meghan as Harry’s girlfriend, we watched as she cheered on her boyfriend as he made a speech at the Invictus Games’ opening ceremony in Toronto on Sept. 23, 2017.

Mark Blinch / Reuters

It was at the Invictus Games in Toronto where Meghan and Harry made their public debut as a couple. The twosome watched a game of wheelchair tennis at Nathan Phillips Square on Sept. 25, 2017.

They Made It Official

It was at the Invictus Games in Toronto where Meghan and Harry made their public debut as a couple. The twosome watched a game of wheelchair tennis at Nathan Phillips Square on Sept. 25, 2017.

Mark Blinch / Reuters

We knew Meghan and Harry were serious when Meghan's mom showed up  at the Invictus Games closing ceremony in Toronto and was spotted hanging out with the couple at the then-Air Canada Centre (now Scotiabank Arena) on Sept. 30, 2017.

Meghan’s Mom Hung Out With Harry

We knew Meghan and Harry were serious when Meghan’s mom showed up
 at the Invictus Games closing ceremony in Toronto and was spotted hanging out with the couple at the then-Air Canada Centre (now Scotiabank Arena) on Sept. 30, 2017.

Karwai Tang via Getty Images

Welcome to Canada, Archie! The Duke and Duchess of Sussex brought their eight-month-old son to B.C. with them for their Christmas holiday, and the cutie is currently living with his mum on Vancouver Island. According to proud dad, Harry, Arch experienced his first snowfall in the Great White North.

Archie’s First Snowfall

Welcome to Canada, Archie! The Duke and Duchess of Sussex brought their eight-month-old son to B.C. with them for their Christmas holiday, and the cutie is currently living with his mum on Vancouver Island. According to proud dad, Harry, Arch experienced his first snowfall in the Great White North.

Sussex Royal Instagram

After Harry and Meghan announced their plans to step down as senior royals, the duchess got right back to work. First stop, the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre in Vancouver to "discuss issues affecting women in the community."

Meghan Visited Vancouver Women’s Centre

After Harry and Meghan announced their plans to step down as senior royals, the duchess got right back to work. First stop, the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre in Vancouver to “discuss issues affecting women in the community.”Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre

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By The Wall of Law January 21, 2020 Off

100s in river ‘no-man’s land’ after Mexico troops block way

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico — Hundreds of Central American migrants were stranded in a sort of no-man’s land on the river border between Guatemala and Mexico after running up against lines of Mexican National Guard troops deployed to keep them from moving en masse into the country and on north toward the U.S.

Naked children played amid the sand and trash Monday evening as clothing and shoes hung from the trees to dry along the Suchiate River, normally a porous waterway plied all day by rafts ferrying people and goods across. Men grilled a fish over a small fire below the border bridge, and migrants bedded down under blankets on the banks or dry sections of the riverbed without knowing what might come next.

The path forward was blocked Monday by Mexican troops with riot shields, and about 100 National Guard agents continued to form a barrier with anti-riot gear into the night. But a return home to impoverished and gang-plagued Honduras, where most of the migrants are from, was unthinkable.

“We are in no-man’s land,” said Alan Mejía, whose 2-year-old son was cradled in his arms clad only in a diaper as his wife, Ingrid Vanesa Portillo, and their other son, 12, gazed at the riverbanks. Mejía joined in five previous migrant caravans but never made it farther than the Mexican border city of Tijuana.

“They are planning how to clear us out, and here we are without water or food,” said a desperate Portillo. “There is no more hope for going forward.”

Unlike was often the case with previous caravans, there was no sign of humanitarian aid arriving for those stuck at the river.

Throngs waded across the Suchiate into southern Mexico on Monday hoping to test U.S. President Donald Trump’s strategy to keep Central American migrants away from the U.S. border. The push also challenged Mexico’s ramped-up immigration policing that began last year in response to threats of economic tariffs from Trump, a change that effectively snuffed out the last caravan in April.

Some scuffled with National Guard troops on the riverbank while others slipped through the lines and trudged off on a rural highway, with most taken into custody later in the day. Still others were taken into custody on the spot or chased into the brush. Some migrants hurled rocks at the police, who huddled behind their plastic shields and threw some of the rocks back.

Most of the migrants, however, stayed at the river’s edge or stood in its waters trying to decide their next move after being blocked earlier in the day from crossing the bridge linking Tecun Uman, Guatemala, with Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico.

“We never thought they would receive us like that,” said Melisa Ávila, who travelled from the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa with her 12-year-old son and was resigning herself to the prospect of spending the night outdoors. “They treated us like dogs.”

In an approach that developed after the first migrant caravan in late 2018, Mexican officials seem to be succeeding in their effort to blunt large-scale incursions by breaking up the mass of people repeatedly and into increasingly smaller groups. Over the weekend, government officials convinced about 1,000 people they should enter legally via the bridge.

The National Immigration Institute issued a statement saying it would detain any migrants in the country illegally, hold them in detention centres and deport those who did not legalize their status. Any who made it through and continued north could expect a gauntlet of highway checkpoints.

As feared, children suffered in the chaos. On the Mexican bank an unconscious 14-year-old girl was carried away for medical attention Monday.

Later along the highway, a mother sobbed after realizing her youngest daughter had been separated when migrants tried to escape authorities. Another migrant who had been helping her by carrying the 5-year-old ran in another direction when the migrants scattered and she hadn’t been able to locate them.

Back at the river, Ávila, who had befriended the woman at a shelter in Tecun Uman, walked along the bank showing everyone a picture of the daughter.

“Have you seen this little girl?” Ávila asked other migrants. “Blue pants, beige shirt and little pink shoes.”

The Guatemalan government issued new data saying that 4,000 migrants had entered that country through the two primary crossings used by the migrants last week, and over the weekend nearly 1,700 entered Mexico at two crossings. It said 400 had been deported from Guatemala.

The Immigration Institute said late Monday in a statement that about 500 migrants had entered irregularly and announced the “rescue” of 402 of them — using the term it frequently employs to describe migration detentions; It said the latter were taken to holding centres and offered medical care.

The institute said five National Guard troops were hurt but did not give details.

While Mexico says the migrants are free to enter if they do so through official channels — and could compete for jobs if they want to stay and work — in practice, it has restricted such migrants to the impoverished southernmost states while their cases are processed by a sluggish bureaucracy.

When the rocks began flying at the river Monday, Elena Vásquez, , fearful for the safety of her two wailing sons, bolted back to the Guatemalan side where she would later spend the night. Exhausted after a week on the road, the 28-year-old from Olancho, Honduras, vowed to endure and hoped Mexican authorities would have a change of heart.

“I am going to wait as long as necessary. God will open the gates for us,” Vásquez said.

“Necessity forces one day more on us,” she continued. “We will have to wait and see what happens.”

___

Associated Press writer María Verza reported this story in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, and AP writer Sonia Pérez D. reported from Tecun Uman, Guatemala.

MaríA Verza And Sonia PéRez D., The Associated Press

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By The Wall of Law January 21, 2020 Off

‘The justice system has let us down:’ family’s wrongful death suit faces delay

When he walked into a courthouse in Brampton, Ont., earlier this month, Rakesh Tiwari was full of hope.

Tiwari was about to have his day in court, more than half a decade after his son killed himself while on suicide watch at a hospital in Brampton, Ont.

He filed a wrongful death suit against the William Osler Health System and some staff members in 2015 for negligence in their care of Prashant Tiwari. In the fall of 2018, a judge set the 34-day trial for January 2020.

On the day the trial was set to get underway, the judge told Tiwari and his lawyer the jury was ready to go, but there was no courtroom to hear the case –not in Brampton, Toronto, Kitchener, Orangeville or Milton, Ont.

“Now I’m stuck. There is no hope. I don’t believe it will happen,” Tiwari said in a recent phone interview, choking back tears. “First, the medical system has let Prashant down, now we went to court where the justice system has let us down.”

Delays in Ontario courts are a serious problem. The province’s auditor general ripped the plodding system in a scathing report last month, and the government is trying to address it.

However, lawyers say a landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling designed to speed up criminal cases– the so-called “Jordan decision” — has had a restrictive effect on civil cases.

In 2016, the country’s highest court put specific time limits on criminal cases that, if exceeded, would result in the charges being tossed for violating an accused’s constitutional right to a timely trial.

“The problem is the Jordan rule — the criminal cases get [precedence] over the civil cases,” Tiwari’s lawyer, Michael Smitiuch, said.

“We are regularly bumped and it’s wrong. There needs to be a recognition that cases such as wrongful death cases should also have precedence as well.”

Civil cases and serious criminal matters are intrinsically tied because they are both heard in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, along with some family cases. The same judges, staff members and courtrooms are used for all three, explained Laura Hillyer, the president-elect of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association.

She said lengthy delays in civil matters are a problem across the province, but particularly in urban areas. The long-running problem has been exacerbated by the Jordan decision, she said.

“The courts are an essential part of our democracy, but if you can’t have access to court to settle the dispute, what are you supposed to do? You still have the dispute,” Hillyer said.

“It erodes a fundamental part of our democracy.”

According to the auditor general’s report, there were 74,816 civil cases received in 2018/19, and 37,601 cases disposed of in that time; five years earlier, there were 75,719 cases received and 43,796 cases disposed.

The Ministry of the Attorney General said it is working on ways to “address delays and backlogs in the justice system.”

On Jan. 1, the province introduced a “simplified procedure” process for civil claims between $35,000 and $200,000, and a jury is no longer an option for those cases. The province also increased the limit of small-claims court to $35,000.

“We’ve made changes to simplify civil court processes and reduce costs and delays in civil matters to allow more resources to be applied towards other pressing cases,” ministry spokesman Brian Gray said in an email.

For Rakesh Tiwari, those changes are meaningless.

On June 16, 2014, Prashant Tiwari went to his father after deliberately cutting his neck and chest.

“Dad, I need help,” Rakesh says Prashant told him.

Rakesh Tiwari took his son to the Brampton Civic Hospital, where doctors stitched up his neck and chest. Prashant voluntarily admitted himself into the hospital’s secure psychiatric unit, his father said, and was kept under close observation.

After 10 days of treatment, doctors felt the younger Tiwari had improved enough to schedule a move into a non-secure psychiatric unit, according to the statement of claim. But while inside the secure unit, Prashant Tiwari was left unsupervised for nearly three hours. During that time he went to the shower and hanged himself.

William Osler Health System said in a statement that “through oversight and error, the observation policy was not followed.” However, the hospital said it is not responsible for Tiwari’s death because it provided reasonable hospital and nursing care.

“The Osler community has been deeply affected by this tragedy. We have and continue to express our sincere condolences for the Tiwari family’s loss,” hospital spokesman Donna Harris said.

“As the matter is before the courts, and in respect of patient privacy, we are unable to discuss this case further.”

Rakesh Tiwari said until he has his day in court, “There will always be that feeling I failed him as a father.”

“I do not know what I could have done other than taking him to the hospital,” he said.

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By The Wall of Law January 21, 2020 Off

‘The justice system has let us down:’ Family’s wrongful death suit over son’s suicide delayed

When he walked into a courthouse in Brampton, Ont., earlier this month, Rakesh Tiwari was full of hope.

Tiwari was about to have his day in court, more than half a decade after his son killed himself while on suicide watch at a hospital in Brampton, Ont.

He filed a wrongful death suit against the William Osler Health System and some staff members in 2015 for negligence in their care of Prashant Tiwari. In the fall of 2018, a judge set the 34-day trial for January 2020.

On the day the trial was set to get underway, the judge told Tiwari and his lawyer the jury was ready to go, but there was no courtroom to hear the case — not in Brampton, Toronto, Kitchener, Orangeville or Milton, Ont.

Prashant Tiwari

“Now I’m stuck. There is no hope. I don’t believe it will happen,” Tiwari said in a recent phone interview, choking back tears. “First the medical system has let Prashant down, now we went to court where the justice system has let us down.”

Delays in Ontario courts are a serious problem. The province’s auditor general ripped the plodding system in a scathing report last month, and the government is trying to address it.

However, lawyers say a landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling designed to speed up criminal cases — the so-called “Jordan decision” — has had a restrictive effect on civil cases.

In 2016, the country’s highest court put specific time limits on criminal cases that, if exceeded, would result in the charges being tossed for violating an accused’s constitutional right to a timely trial.

“The problem is the Jordan rule — the criminal cases get precedent over the civil cases,” Tiwari’s lawyer, Michael Smitiuch, said.

“We are regularly bumped and it’s wrong. There needs to be a recognition that cases such as wrongful death cases should also have precedence as well.”

Civil cases and serious criminal matters are intrinsically tied because they are both heard in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, along with some family cases. The same judges, staff members and courtrooms are used for all three, explained Laura Hillyer, the president-elect of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association.

She said lengthy delays in civil matters are a problem across the province, but particularly in urban areas. The long-running problem has been exacerbated by the Jordan decision, she said.

“The courts are an essential part of our democracy, but if you can’t have access to court to settle the dispute, what are you supposed to do? You still have the dispute,” Hillyer said.

“It erodes a fundamental part of our democracy.”

According to the auditor general’s report, there were 74,816 civil cases received in 2018/19, and 37,601 cases disposed of in that time; five years earlier, there were 75,719 cases received and 43,796 cases disposed.

The Ministry of the Attorney General said it is working on ways to “address delays and backlogs in the justice system.”

On Jan. 1, the province introduced a “simplified procedure” process for civil claims between $35,000 and $200,000, and a jury is no longer an option for those cases. The province also increased the limit of small-claims court to $35,000.

“We’ve made changes to simplify civil court processes and reduce costs and delays in civil matters to allow more resources to be applied towards other pressing cases,” ministry spokesman Brian Gray said in an email.

For Rakesh Tiwari, those changes are meaningless.

On June 16, 2014, Prashant Tiwari went to his father after deliberately cutting his neck and chest.

“Dad, I need help,” Rakesh says Prashant told him.

Rakesh Tiwari took his son to the Brampton Civic Hospital, where doctors stitched up his neck and chest. Prashant voluntarily admitted himself into the hospital’s secure psychiatric unit, his father said, and was kept under close observation.

After 10 days of treatment, doctors felt the younger Tiwari had improved enough to schedule a move into a non-secure psychiatric unit, according to the statement of claim. But while inside the secure unit, Prashant Tiwari was left unsupervised for nearly three hours. During that time he went to the shower and hanged himself.

William Osler Health System said in a statement that “through oversight and error, the observation policy was not followed.” However, the hospital said it is not responsible for Tiwari’s death because it provided reasonable hospital and nursing care.

“The Osler community has been deeply affected by this tragedy. We have and continue to express our sincere condolences for the Tiwari family’s loss,” hospital spokesman Donna Harris said.

“As the matter is before the courts, and in respect of patient privacy, we are unable to discuss this case further.”

Rakesh Tiwari said until he has his day in court, “There will always be that feeling I failed him as a father.”

“I do not know what I could have done other than taking him to the hospital,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2020.

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source https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/the-justice-system-has-let-us-down-family-s-wrongful-death-suit-over-son-s-suicide-delayed-1.4775835

By The Wall of Law January 21, 2020 Off