Video shows black teen pinned to ground; TTC fare inspector suspended with pay
Published Friday, February 23, 2018 8:25PM EST Last Updated Friday, February 23, 2018 10:51PM EST
A TTC fare inspector has been suspended with pay following an incident involving a black teenager being pinned to the ground on the 512 St. Clair streetcar route earlier this week.
Viewer video posted online on Sunday at around 5 p.m. shows multiple Toronto officers and a TTC fare inspector on top of a male lying on the ground beside the streetcar.
The online post featuring the viewer video said a black teenaged boy “shoved” a TTC fare collector “who put his hands on him.”
“They held him down screaming for 20 minutes,” the online post said.
Bethany McBride, who witnessed the incident and posted the video online, further explained what happened while speaking with CP24 on Friday night.
“What I saw was a young teenager, he was black, he was about 15 or 16 (years old),” she said. “He was getting off the train and he had his foot kind of half-out, half-in and he got grabbed by the fare worker. He reacted defensively and shoved the TTC worker and they took his backpack and his headphones off him, restrained him, brought him outside of the streetcar and detained him on the ground.”
“About five minutes later three male, white police officers showed up, cuffed him and proceeded to also climb on top of him when he was already restrained, not resisting, and detain him for another 15 minutes.”
Officials have not said what led to this altercation on the streetcar.
The incident took place on Feb. 18 in the area of St. Clair Avenue West and Bathurst Street.
Online commentary and multiple open letters to the city regarding the incident have emerged this week prompting investigations by the TTC, Toronto police and the city’s Ombudsman.
Youth advocate and Ward. 42 Coun. Neethan Shan described the incident in a letter addressed to Mayor John Tory, acting TTC chair Richard Leary and Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders on Thursday.
“According to media reports, a witness saw a black teenage boy getting off a streetcar at St. Clair Avenue and Bathurst Street when a fare inspector, who was doing rounds on the streetcar, grabbed him by the back of his coat and dragged him back into the vehicle,” Shan said in the letter.
“The witness said that when the teenager reacted defensively, an altercation ensued and two fare inspectors dragged the boy off the streetcar and pinned him to the ground.”
Shan said he is calling for a “full and timely investigation” on the matter.
“I remain concerned that young people, particularly young people of colour, are being impacted by excessive force and targeting in our city,” he said.
In response to Shan’s letter, Tory wrote a letter saying he was “deeply disturbed” by the incident on Thursday afternoon.
“As a mayor, I am committed to ensuring Toronto is a safe place for all residents and one where any form of violence, discrimination or racism is not tolerated,” Tory said in the letter. “I share your concern that young people, particularly young people from racialized communities, are facing more instances of this kind.”
“I welcome the fact that three investigations are currently underway into what happened in this case. I believe this will ensure that the public will have a full and transparent accounting of why this occurred and how we can ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
Tory confirmed the TTC and Toronto police are each conducting their own investigations into the matter.
The City’s Ombudsman Susan Opler is also probing the incident and reviewing the TTC’s investigation, Tory said.
Leary wrote a letter in response to Opler’s probe into the incident on Friday.
“As TTC CEO, I want to assure you that the TTC’s investigation will take all appropriate steps to thoroughly address this incident and the allegations made in its wake,” he said in the letter. “We are committed to answering the public’s questions regarding this incident following the completing of this investigation.”
The TTC said their investigation, conducted by TTC’s unit complaints coordinator Paul Manherz, will focus on five alleged violations of the transit enforcement unit code of conduct.
- The respondent transit fare inspector failed to treat customers equally without discrimination
- The respondent transit fare inspector assaulted a TTC customer
- The respondent transit fare inspector was otherwise uncivil to a member of the public
- The respondent transit fare inspector acted in a disorderly manner
The TTC said they have suspended the responding fare inspector with pay pending the outcome of the investigation and they have contacted Toronto police to conduct their own investigation to determine if any criminal charges are warranted.
“Following the outcome of the investigation, we will give consideration to engaging a review of policies and procedures, as required,” Leary said.
On Friday evening, Toronto police confirmed to CP24 that they are conducting an investigation.
“I can confirm that professional standards is working cooperatively with the TTC to review any potential infractions committed by the police officers or the special constables,” Toronto Police Services spokesperson Meaghan Gray said in an email to CP24.