Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Yatim Thought People Were Trying to Kill Him, Streetcar Driver Testifies

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Yatim Thought People Were Trying to Kill Him, Streetcar Driver Testifies

Article excerpt

Streetcar driver testifies at Forcillo trial


TORONTO - A teen who died in a hail of police gunfire on an empty Toronto streetcar told the vehicle's driver just minutes earlier that he thought people were trying to kill him, the trial of the officer charged in the shooting heard Monday.

Streetcar driver Chad Seymour was the last person to speak with Sammy Yatim before the 18-year-old was killed in a confrontation with Const. James Forcillo.

"I asked him 'is everything OK, what happened?' He replied 'everyone's trying to kill me,'" Seymour told the court. "He said 'do you have a phone?' I said 'I don't have a phone on me but I can get you a phone, who do you want to call?' He said, 'my dad.'"

Not long after their calm conversation, Yatim was crumpled on the floor of the streetcar, dying of gunshot wounds.

Forcillo has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and attempted murder in Yatim's death -- an incident that ignited public outrage.

Crown prosecutors have said they plan to prove that Forcillo's actions during the July 2013 incident weren't necessary or reasonable. Forcillo's lawyer has said his client's actions were justified and carried out in self-defence.

The jury has also heard that Yatim consumed the drug ecstasy before he boarded the streetcar.

Through questioning from a Crown prosecutor, Seymour recounted the night for the court.

He said he was driving the streetcar late on a Friday night when he heard a woman scream followed by someone saying "he has a knife."

The jury has seen surveillance videos from the streetcar that show Yatim sitting at the back of the vehicle and suddenly leaning forward to swing a small knife at a woman seated near him.

Seymour recalled that passengers rushed to the front of the streetcar, crushing into each other on the vehicle's front steps, asking him to open the doors.

He stopped the streetcar, opened the front and back doors and hit emergency buttons that told transit authorities there was an urgent situation on board, court heard.

"There was some pushing, some swearing and once the doors opened, everyone just kind of flooded out," Seymour said.

By that point, Seymour said he had turned around and seen Yatim walking forward with a knife in his right hand -- his arm extended out. …

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