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Concerns raised after TTC fare inspectors pin rider to ground, trigger large police response

Last Updated Feb 21, 2018 at 1:15 pm EDT

Bystanders are raising concerns about an incident involving TTC fare inspectors and a rider that triggered a large police response on Sunday afternoon.

According to witness Bethany McBride, a boy who looked around 15 years old was getting off the streetcar at St. Clair Avenue West and Bathurst Street, when a fare inspector grabbed him by the back of his coat and dragged him back into the vehicle.

“It looked like he was going to get off and they were making their rounds checking people’s transfers and they wanted to catch him before he made his way off the [streetcar],” McBride said.

“I saw the [teen] react semi-aggressively, in a defensive manner.”

She said the teen shoved the inspector, prompting an altercation, and then the two fare inspectors dragged the kid off the streetcar and pinned him to the ground.

Police were called to assist, around 4:30 p.m., and when they arrived they found a large crowd had gathered around the inspectors and the boy, who is Black.

In a video McBride shot of the incident, the boy says, “I didn’t do anything, though,” and “You’re hurting me. You’re hurting me.”

She said he didn’t seem to be fighting back or trying to escape and there was blood and dirt on his face.

Officers said they handcuffed the boy because he was resisting and refused to put his hands behind his back — and they escorted him next to a squad car where it was quieter.

The boy was visibly upset and identified himself to officers.

Police found the boy hadn’t committed any criminal offence and immediately released him.

TTC spokesman Stuart Green said unlike special constables, fare inspectors should only be using force as a “defensive mechanism.”

“They would never, for example, physically remove someone for not paying a fare,” he said.

“The use of force for fare inspectors is very specific around defence and evasion, that kind of thing.”

Green said the TTC is investigating — including reviewing surveillance video of the incident and questioning the fare inspectors — and will take “appropriate action.”

“What we’ve seen in the video is, of course, of great concern to us,” he said.