(Canadian OH&S News) — Following the recent public media exposure of a video of the occurrence, Chief Executive Officer Andy Byford of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has asked the Toronto Police Service (TPS) to investigate a violent incident that occurred between two men and two Transit Enforcement Officers (TEOs) on Jan. 29.
Following a Toronto Maple Leafs game at the Air Canada Centre that evening, two of the returning attendees became involved in a scuffle with a TEO at the underground subway concourse at Union Station, according to an April 1 press statement from the TTC. Another TEO joined the melee, and the police were contacted, resulting in criminal charges for assault against both of the hockey fans.
Media reports have identified the two charged men as 63-year-old Russell Gillman and his son, 33-year-old Jamie Gillman.
“The incident did not involve a fare dispute, though the provocation remains unknown,” the TTC statement read. “Given the seriousness of this matter, the TTC has requested the police to independently review the incident.”
Videos of the fight were posted on YouTube and other social-media outlets. On March 31, the story reached a higher profile when the Toronto Star posted one of the videos on its website. The video shows the TEOs responding to the alleged perpetrators with violence, including throwing punches at the side of one man while the latter kneels on the floor and punching the other in the face as he stands against a wall.
“The TTC wants to ensure any use of force by its officers is justified and that approved procedures are always followed,” the TTC stated. “Complaints about the conduct of TEOs are typically handled by a separate unit within the TTC’s human-resources department.
“No public complaints have been filed about this incident.”
The TPS’ Professional Standards Unit will be leading the investigation, and the TTC will hand over all CCTV footage of the incident to the police for a full review.
The TTC trains its TEOs to uphold the standards of the police in all of their confrontations with passengers, the transit company said; their methods include communication and de-escalation techniques, with use of force as a last resort. “It is for this reason that the TTC is seeking the assistance of police in independently reviewing the matter and looks forward to the conclusion of their investigation,” the TTC noted.
“Public safety is the TTC’s first priority; public trust in those charged with maintaining that safety must follow.”