Quebec woman gets ticket for refusing to hold handrail
UPDATE Sept. 1, 2020: Bela Kosoian was acquitted of the two infractions in Montreal municipal court in 2012 and subsequently filed a $45,000 lawsuit against Montreal's transit authority, the City of Laval and one of the officers, Fabio Camacho. In 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada ordered that Kosoian be awarded $20,000 in damages.
A Quebec woman fined $420 for not holding an escalator handrail in a subway station is traumatized by the experience but vows to fight police once she finishes her university exams, her husband said.
Bela Kosoian, 38, was fined last Wednesday at Laval's Montmorency metro station, north of Montreal, after a police officer caught her riding an escalator hands free, which is against posted regulations.
Laval police said Kosoian repeatedly refused to hold on to the handrail, even after the officer beseeched her to obey the rules.
'She knows she's completely innocent. People sometimes pay a ticket to avoid going to court. [But] she's done nothing wrong. You got no choice but to vindicate yourself.'— Richard Church, Bela Kosoian's husband
Kosoian was handcuffed and detained at the station after making a scene, police said. She was released after being fined $100 for not holding the handrail, plus $320 for obstructing police work.
Kosoian is "burnt out" by the incident and her family doctor believes she is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as a pinched nerve and bruising from the handcuffs, said Richard Church, her husband.
"My wife is really not well right now," and is overwhelmed by the attention her case has attracted, he told CBC.ca in a telephone interview.
"She feels really violated, and she's got the added stress of preparing for exams," to finish her BA in international relations at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQÀM), Church said.
"She is not able to type without numbness in her fingers," which is adding to her stress, he said.
But once her exams are done, Kosoian is going to weigh all her options, except paying the fines, he said.
"She knows she's completely innocent," Church said. "People sometimes pay a ticket to avoid going to court. [But] she's done nothing wrong. You got no choice but to vindicate yourself."
The couple are prepared to at least contest the ticket, and consider other action, he said. Kosoian and Church went to the station a few days ago to take pictures, "and people were there, not holding on to the [escalator] rails," he said.
"It's a double standard, it's absolutely ridiculous."
Laval police maintain the officer who issued the ticket followed proper protocol. The incident was caught on the station's surveillance cameras, but the video won't be released unless Kosoian files a complaint with the police ethics commission.