Charges laid after video of violent incident involving TTC constables surfaces online
TORONTO -- Toronto police have charged a man after a video of a violent confrontation on a streetcar Friday morning involving transit constables and a passenger surfaced online.
The 12-second video appears to show one of the constables holding the passenger down while another constable appears to spray a white substance on him.
According to the person who posted the video to Twitter, the incident occurred around 7:50 a.m. on a 501 streetcar on Queen Street, near River Street. The officers allegedly approached the man and asked for proof of payment, the Twitter user posted, and when the man tried to move in the opposite direction, there was "mutual shoving and then punches."
"Everything escalated in less than a second," Twitter user @CascadingDesign said. "Some sort of pepper spray foam was used, the man was subdued and then handcuffed. Nobody else was injured or involved as far as I can tell."
The Twitter user said that before the constables arrived on the streetcar, the man had kicked off his shoes and was yelling at people.
"If you ignored him (and up to the point of the fare inspectors getting on, everyone did ignore him), he wouldn't have been a danger to anybody," they said.
On Saturday, Toronto police confirmed to CTV News Toronto that the passenger was charged with two counts of uttering threats and two counts of assaulting an officer.
Neither the TTC nor Toronto police confirmed what substance was sprayed on the man.
Councillors condemn actions
The incident has sparked backlash online directed at the TTC special constables, most notably by two city councillors.
Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents the ward where the incident took place, tweeted that the use of force displayed in the video is "never acceptable."
"The actual offence, if any, doesn't even matter anymore," Wong-Tam said in the tweet.
"This is not how the TTC should be treating riders. There needs to be a full investigation into this use of force, which is never acceptable."
Councillor Brad Bradford echoed that criticism. He tweeted that the video showed the "unequivocally the wrong way to handle fare evasion."
"Another example of why we need to improve the training and recruitment processes for fare inspectors. Officers need to de-escalate these situations, not resort to force."
In a statement, TTC CEO Rick Leary said he takes the issue very seriously and has given direction to initiate an investigation into the incident by an external party.
Union wants full video released
The union representing special constables and fare inspectors, CUPE 5089, said that they are aware of the incident and want the security footage of the entire interaction released to the public.
"We are publicly requesting that the Toronto Transit Commission release the secured CCTV footage of the incident in its entirety to the public. We urge the commission to release the video from the moment the accused stepped onto the vehicle to transfer of custody to Toronto Police," the union said in a statement Saturday.
The union also noted the "several inflammatory and unnecessary" comments made by "city leaders" in the aftermath of the incident.
"It is unacceptable and unprofessional for them to rush judgement over a 12-second video. Their careless, self-serving comments have driven the forum away from independent public opinion and taken away the facts and issues of the incident."
CUPE 5089 said it fully supports the level of force used by the officers in the video as they fall within the parameters of the provincial use of force model.
With files from Katherine DeClerq.