Police to investigate conduct of enforcement officers in altercation video
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, April 1, 2015 7:41AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 1, 2015 6:11PM EDT
Toronto Police will investigate the actions of two transit enforcement officers who were caught on video in a physical altercation with two civilians earlier this year.
The incident, which occurred at Union Station following a Maple Leafs game on Jan. 29, led to assault charges being filed against both of the civilians however, neither party filed a complaint against the officers and the matter was considered closed until a six-minute video of the incident was posted to YouTube on Tuesday.
The video shows one of the enforcement officers attempting to apprehend a man. The camera then pans away for a moment and when it returns another man is shown punching the enforcement officer several times. At that point a second transit enforcement officer runs into the shot and is seen punching the man in the face repeatedly.
Police then arrive and arrest both civilians.
The TTC has placed both officers on administrative duty as of Wednesday pending the outcome of the police investigation. The investigation will be led by the police’ Professional Standards Unit.
“I think we need to let the investigation take its course and we need to understand the context but certainly I am very concerned whenever I hear of or see TTC staff involved in a fight,” TTC CEO Andy Byford told reporters Wednesday afternoon. “I can’t know everything about everything that happens every day but when I saw the video I was immediately struck and knew we had to have scrutiny and further action.”
Byford said it is not immediately clear what provoked the incident; however he said it was not the result of a fare dispute.
The TTC CEO, who only became aware of the altercation when the video surfaced Tuesday night, added that he will be “asking questions” as to why he wasn’t brought into the loop sooner.
“I absolutely do think this is serious and one of the questions that I will be asking is was the decision to take no further action the right decision? With the benefit of hindsight should this have been escalated further?” he said.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday afternoon Mayor John Tory said that he believes the matter is being dealt with appropriately.
"You are always very disturbed to see any encounter like that between sort of the authorities as it were and citizens that ends up in that kind of a situation but I am satisfied that in this particular circumstance, things have headed off to the places where they belong," he said.
Tory added that he does not believe that the TTC tried to "cover up" the incident.
"I don’t see any evidence of that. Now if that emerges later on then I would obviously be very concerned about that but I just sense that in this case there was no reason for any of the rest of us to know more than we knew," he said.
Video raises ‘a lot of concerns’
The police investigation into the incident will include the review of surveillance camera footage and statements made by the transit enforcement officers following the incident as well as interviews with officers that were called to the scene.
Speaking with reporters Byford said that he is “mindful” of a need to understand the context and what led up to the altercation.
At city hall, however, TTC Chair Josh Colle told CP24 that he has a hard time believing that there would be any justification for the level of violence seen in the video.
“I think there is some pretty extreme activity there and it is hard to imagine what context would call for that,” he said. “On first glance it is very disturbing and it raises a lot of concerns”
Fare collector attempted to intervene
TTC special constables receive about 54 days of training, including eight days on how to deescalate conflict, however transit enforcement officers don’t receive the same amount of instruction.
Discussing the video with CP24, ATU Local 113 President Bob Kinnear credited the actions of a fare collector who appears to have tried to separate the transit enforcement officer and the man. It should be noted that Kinnear’s union does not represent transit enforcement officers.
“He looks like the only one that was trying to defuse the situation,” Kinnear said.
Kinnear said the fare collector would have filed a report about the altercation and he is currently “trying to track down” that document to see whether the TTC erred in not investigating the incident further.
“It is somewhat shocking that this issue hadn’t come to the attention of the TTC,” he said. “We have seen videos before where TTC employees are doing much more insignificant things that have been brought to the attention of the media and management.”
Jamie Gillman, 33, has been charged with two counts of assault and one count of uttering death threats in connection with the incident while Russell Gillman, 63, has been charged with one count of assault and one count of uttering death threats.
Both are due in court on April 15.
Two men accused in incident are 'well-mannered, proper citizens,' lawyer says
Jamie Gillman's lawyer Bruce Daley told CP24 Wednesday that Gillman and his father are both "hardworking" and "successful" men who have never been in trouble with the law.
"Nobody should ever be subject to an unlawful use of force but these are definitely not the type of individuals that would come in to any conflict with anybody let alone say police officers," Daley said.
Gillman's lawyer said his client suffered "significant" psychological and physical injuries during the incident.
"He received serious concussive injuries. He sought and is seeking medical attention. And from a psychological point of view, he witnessed his father being thrown around like a rag doll and if you watch the entire video, it is clear that is what he is reacting to for what in his view was nothing that could rationally be considered to be a proper reason," Daley said.
The TTC says no complaints have been filed from members of the public regarding the incident, however, Daley said there is "no doubt" in his mind that a complaint will be forthcoming.
"We do not have disclosure with respect to the criminal charges and it is my practice that where there are legitimate complaints to be made, they are made after one has gathered all the facts and not in a premature fashion," he said.
"...That being said, any person viewing that video can see that those overhand rights would be very difficult to justify on any theory of appropriate law enforcement or appropriate use of force."
Lisa White, a criminal lawyer who is representing Russell Gillman, told CP24 in a written statement that her client intends to "vigorously" defend the matter in court.
"We are awaiting disclosure of the full surveillance footage of the events that precipitated what was caught on the video that the public has seen thus far," the statement said.
"It is our position that my client's actions that evening in no way warranted the laying of criminal charges."
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