A Toronto father and son have launched a $4-million lawsuit against the Toronto Transit Commission and two of its transit enforcement officers in connection to a violent confrontation at Union Station two years ago.
Russell Gillman, 64, and his 35-year-old son Jamie, allege in their statement of claim that they were “excessively and unreasonably” assaulted at Union Station after attending a Toronto Maple Leafs game on Jan. 29, 2015.
The Gillmans, who had assault and uttering threat charges against them dropped last month, claim RussellGillman accidentally brushed up against a transit officer after paying his fare and was forced against the wall and arrested.
“When I brushed by him and bumped into him a little bit, he stopped me and he said, ‘You bumped me,'” Russell Gillman told reporters during a press conference in Toronto on Thursday.
“I immediately put my hand on his elbow in a very apologetic manner, apologized and said, ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t see you. I was looking elsewhere,’ and started to go around him thinking that was the end of this incident. Then he grabs me and pulls me aside and that’s when he became very aggressive.”
A video of the incident posted on social media shows an officer appearing to punch Gillman in the stomach as he kneels face down on a subway platform.
A second TTC officer can be seen repeatedly punching Gillman’s son in the face as a TTC employee tries to separate the two.
“It’s clear to me in the video that my father gets pushed against the door and hit in the head and as I go to defend him, because I’m worried for his safety, I tried to pull the officer off of him. There’s no initiation by me in any way,” Jamie Gillman said.
“Prior to that there were quite a few elbow strikes and punches to the head. My father dropped to the ground.”
The Gillmans, who suffered an arm, head and shoulder injuries in the incident, allege the TTC allowed unqualified and inadequately trained employees to work as transit officers.
Both TTC officers involved in the confrontation were absolved of any wrongdoing following an investigation by the Toronto Police Service professional standards branch.
“The Transit Enforcement Officers in question were cleared of any wrongdoing in that review,” the TTC said in a statement. “We will not be commenting further as the matter is now before the court.”
The Gillmans’ lawyer Michael Smitiuch told reporters the finding by police contradicts the withdrawal of charges against the father and son.
“Someone is to blame for this incident. So if the charges were dropped against the Gillmans, I think that speaks volumes,” he said.
“They’re hoping that the TTC will be held accountable and that they’ll get some answers from this lawsuit.”
VIDEO: TTC Special Constable allegedly assaults man in Union Station