Two Toronto transit constables have been fired after an investigation concluded that they used “excessive force” on a streetcar passenger in an incident last February.
CUPE Local 5089, which represents TTC constables and fare inspectors, posted a statement on social media Friday announcing that two employees involved in the 501 Queen streetcar incident on Feb. 7 had been fired.
“This 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 union alleged.
Last month, a report by Rubin Thomlinson, ordered by the TTC, concluded that two constables were unnecessarily violent with a streetcar passenger. Video of the incident was posted on social media.
The investigator found both officers — motivated by misguided perceptions of those with mental health issues — used excessive force, as did a fare inspector.
The union said the two officers were fired while the fare inspector “received discipline.”
The investigation found that while a fare inspector approached the passenger without issue, but when proof of payment was requested the man became aggressive.
“The special constables asked for the man to leave the streetcar, but he refused and was “belligerent,” the report stated.
When he later stood up, the constables grabbed his arms and a struggle ensued, which included pepper spray being used, the report said. During part of the struggle, a fare inspector used her fingers on a pressure point of the passenger, the investigator said.
The constables blamed the passenger for starting the brawl. The investigator, however, blamed them for starting violence when the man got up to leave.
Their use of pepper spray, as well as the way the passenger was bent over a seat, wasn’t justified, the investigator said.
The investigator also said the inspectors suspected the passenger was mentally ill and deemed him to pose more of a threat than he demonstrated.
In Friday’s CUPE statement, the union said the incident began when a female passenger alerted two special constables to a man at the back “(who) was harassing and threatening other passengers.”
“As our officers approached and tried to deescalate the situation, the male threatened them with death and attempted to assault them,” the union said.
“Both officers were punched repeatedly as they attempted to gain control of the male. Our officers quickly utilized their training and sound judgment, ultimately placing the male under arrest.”
Charges were laid against the passenger.
The union said that the actions of the special constables are overseen by the Toronto Police Service’s Special Constable Liaison Unit, which reportedly cleared the constables of any wrongdoing in the month that followed the incident.
CUPE reported grievances were filed against the TTC.
A TTC spokesperson confirmed in an email that the employees had been fired.
“We will not comment further as the union has indicated this matter is still active,” the spokesperson said.
— With files from The Canadian Press