Montreal’s public transit agency (STM) says it will investigate the use of force shown in a video circulating on social media on Sunday showing a violent interaction between public transit officers and a citizen.
The footage shows two STM security officers pinning down a Black woman and then violently fighting with her as witnesses try and intervene while someone is heard loudly screaming. The incident happened on the platform of Montreal’s Jean-Talon metro station on Saturday.
The video was posted to various social media accounts and was viewed over 24,000 times on Twitter as of Sunday night.
The Twitter user who posted the video said they arrived once the altercation was already taking place and didn’t know the details of what led to the incident.
Amélie Régis, a spokesperson for the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), told Global News that one of the inspectors was aggressively bit by the person until he was bleeding, which is what prompted a second inspector to intervene.
According to the STM, the incident started because the person involved had snuck onto the metro platform without purchasing a ticket. The transit agency says the inspector approached the person, asked them for ID, which the person refused to provide. The agency says the person then attempted to run toward the exit which is when the altercation allegedly began.
Régis said an investigation into the use of force from the inspectors will be conducted early this week.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said Monday that the video will be investigated.
“These are disturbing images and an investigation begins today to shed light on what happened,” she wrote on social media.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, the union representing some 170 STM inspectors defended its members.
Union president Kevin Grenier said the two inspectors were doing their jobs.
“We are responsible for the security and protection of the integrity of revenues in the Montreal metro,” Grenier said.
“When a person does not pay their transit fees, refuses to identify themselves, resists being arrested, flees, refuses to stop and, moreover, attacks our inspectors, we have protocols to respect.”
While Grenier agreed that the images seem disturbing, he said the video did not capture the full intervention, claiming the inspectors spent 20 minutes trying to defuse the situation before the altercation.
What Grenier said is more disturbing is that the agents had to be hospitalized for doing their job after being bitten to the point of bleeding.
Grenier also condemned messages on social media encouraging the population to physically attack STM peace officers and inspectors.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correctly identify the citizen’s gender.
— With files from Kalina Laframboise, Global News