A video posted to social media showing an altercation on the platform of the Villa-Maria Metro station has raised questions about the behaviour of Société de transport de Montréal (STM) inspectors.
The footage, captured by a bystander, shows two inspectors appearing to tackle a man on the platform of the station before hitting him repeatedly with their nightsticks. At one point, the video shows the man lying on his back and asking the STM employees to stop.
The three men can then be seen speaking to one another before the inspectors hit the man on the ground with their nightsticks as a train pulls into the station behind him.
When reached for comment, the STM confirmed that the man in the video was a passenger on the train who had been approached by the inspectors.
“On first glance, and according to the information we currently have, everything was done by the book,” said STM spokesperson Philippe Dery.
“In these circumstances, it’s necessary to know that the level of force is always in relation to the level of co-operation with the person being approached,” Dery added.
Following the altercation, Montreal police were called to the station to identify the man in the video, however, he had already left the platform.
“If he just recoiled a little bit more, he could have been hit by the subway car,” said Fo Niemi, executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, a Montreal think tank that routinely deals with issues of discrimination and misuse of force by authorities.
Global News asked Niemi whether he thought race was a factor in the altercation. The two inspectors appear to be white and the man they tackled appears to be black.
“I don’t want to speculate if race was a factor, but certainly, we do have to keep in mind whether this incident could have been handled differently,” he said.