TTC suspends fare inspector after black teen pinned to ground in streetcar incident

As the city ombudsman launches an investigation into an incident in which a black teen was pinned to the ground on Sunday, the TTC has suspended a fare inspector with pay.

The TTC and the city's ombudsman are investigating the incident, which was caught on video

Police and TTC fare inspectors are seen on a video posted to Facebook holding a teen on the ground in February. (Bethany McBride/Facebook)

The TTC has suspended a fare inspector with pay after a black teen was pinned to the ground in an incident caught on video Sunday. 

The city's ombudsman has launched a review of the incident, in which two TTC fare inspectors tackled the young man to the ground as he exited a streetcar.

According to streetcar rider Bethany McBride, who posted a short video of the incident to Facebook, the young man was getting off the St. Clair streetcar at Bathurst Street on Sunday afternoon when he was grabbed by a fare inspector. The teen pushed the TTC employee in response, McBride said. When the teen stepped off the streetcar, the inspector, along with a second one, tackled the young man to the ground.

On the video, the man can be heard saying, "You're hurting me" over and over.

Within minutes, Toronto police officers also arrived at the scene. The young man was eventually put in handcuffs.

Video shot by streetcar rider Bethany McBride shows two TTC fare inspectors pinning the teen to the ground 0:10

Video 'extremely alarming'

"I was very upset and disturbed when I saw the video," Toronto ombudsman Susan Opler told CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Thursday.

"We don't know the whole story yet, and I think it's important that I say that," Opler said. 

"But what was depicted in that video was extremely alarming because what we saw was a young person, a young person of colour, who had been overpowered physically by two transit fare inspectors, whose job is to check proof of payment on a streetcar."

Susan Opler, the city's ombudsman, has launched a review of an incident that occurred on a TTC streetcar on Feb. 18. (Metro Morning)

5 alleged violations

On Friday, TTC CEO Rick Leary posted an open letter on the TTC's website addressed to Opler, in which he assures her the transit commission will "take all appropriate steps to thoroughly address this incident and the allegations made in its wake."

Leary's letter outlines five alleged violations of the Transit Enforcement Unit Code of Conduct for which the staff member is being investigated. These include failing to treat customers equally without discrimination, assaulting a TTC customer and using unauthorized force.

Leary also writes that TTC staff have contacted police to request an investigation.

3 investigations launched, Tory says

Mayor John Tory called the incident "deeply disturbing" in his own letter Friday. 

In a response to an open letter sent out by Coun. Neethan Shan on Thursday, Tory wrote "any from of violence, discrimination, or racism is not tolerated.

"I share your concern that young people, particularly young people from racialized communities, are facing more instances of this kind," the letter reads.

In his open letter posted Thursday to Twitter, Shan, who represents Ward 42, Scarborough-Rouge River and is the city's youth advocate, demanded an investigation and a meeting about the incident.

"I remain concerned that young people, particularly young people of colour, are being impacted by excessive force and targeting in our city," Shan wrote in his letter.

He references a letter addressed to Tory and Coun. Josh Colle, chair of the TTC,  by a group called The St. Clair West Village Residents, which calls for answers about what exactly happened to the teen.

In his letter, Tory assures Shan that three investigations have been launched into the case.

He writes that the TTC is "taking this matter very seriously" and is currently investigating.

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders has also started an internal investigation, Tory writes. And finally the city ombudsman is "probing this incident and reviewing the TTC's investigation."