Toronto

2 TTC special constables fired after violent streetcar incident last year

Two TTC special constables have been fired following an investigation that found they used "excessive force" in an altercation involving a passenger on a streetcar last February, their union said Friday. 

Union calls termination 'politically motivated' and lacking in factual evidence

A 12-second video of the arrest that occurred on Feb. 7, 2020 and resulted in the termination of two TTC special constables was posted to social media showing them tackling a male rider and spraying him with a substance.  (@CascadingDesign/Twitter)

Two Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) special constables have been fired following an investigation that found they used excessive force in an altercation involving a passenger on the 501 Queen streetcar last February, their union said Friday. 

The termination comes more than a month after an independent investigation into the violent arrest found that three TTC officers used "unauthorized" and "unnecessary" force on a passenger and that their actions were "discriminatory."

CUPE 5089, the union that represents special constables, fare inspectors, and protective services guards employed by the TTC, posted the news in a Twitter statement Friday night and expressed their disappointment with the TTC's decision. 

"The decision comes in the wake of an 11-month investigation by Rubin Thomlinson that was politically motivated and failed to take into consideration any of the relevant legal, procedural, or factual evidence," the statement reads.

A 12-second video of the arrest that occurred on Feb. 7, 2020 was posted to social media and showed two TTC staff members tackling a male rider and spraying him with a substance. 

The poster of the video said it began when the man, who appeared to be intoxicated, was approached by fare inspectors, who asked for proof of payment. He blew them off, which is when it turned physical, the poster said. 

Toronto police have said that the man was reportedly "acting aggressive and violent."

The video gained public attention, with at least two city councillors speaking out in reaction to it. Coun. Brad Bradford called it an example of the "wrong way to handle fare evasion."

In March of last year, the TTC retained Rubin Thomlinson LLP, an independent workplace investigation firm to probe the arrest, which found that both special constables used excessive force against the man. It also determined their application of force was based on the man's mental health and this was found to be "discriminatory on the basis of disability," the report stated. 

The investigator made multiple recommendations for the TTC, including improved training for special constables and fare inspectors on how they interact with people with mental illness and clarity on fare inspectors' use of force.

Actions were reasonable: union

CUPE 5089 disputed this report and maintains that the actions of the constables were reasonable.

In Friday's statement, they note that the officers were cleared of any wrongdoing by the Toronto Police Professional Standards a month after the incident. 

"As we have done from the beginning, we will continue to fully support the actions of our members," the union said.

"The only positive that has come from this unfortunate incident is that the level of violence occurring almost daily towards customers and staff on Toronto Transit Commission has finally been brought to the public's attention."

TTC spokesperson Stuart Green confirmed in an email that the employees had been fired, but would not comment further as the union has shown this matter is still active. 

CUPE said they filed a grievance with the TTC and they look forward to the reinstatement of both officers.

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