In use-of-force scenarios, circumstances may change quickly. 

The Court of Appeal for Ontario has signaled in R. v. Forcillo that a significant change in the circumstances in which force is used—even within the same transaction—may make the further use of a level of defensive force which had been justified (even at the level of lethal force) no longer so.  

As one’s apprehension of the threat he/she is facing changes, for instance, so too may his/her ability to use force as a lawful response. 

In R. v. Forcillo, 2018 ONCA 402, a Toronto police officer, Forcillo, fired two volleys of shots at a young man, Yatim, who was brandishing a knife on a Toronto streetcar, threatening passengers, and acting erratically.  Officer Forcillo fired the two volleys 5.5 seconds apart.  It was open for the jury to find that the Crown had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the second volley was not a justified use of lethal force on the basis that at the time Forcillo fired the second volley, Forcillo did not reasonably perceive that Yatim posed an imminent threat to him. 

            Stuart O’Connell, O’Connell Law Group, (all rights reserved to author).