A black teen who was allegedly thrown to the ground and pinned by TTC fare inspectors and Toronto police before being released without charge has launched a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.
A statement of claim (below) names the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), three fare inspectors, the Toronto Police Services Board, and two Toronto police officers. It accuses them of “unlawful detention, assault, battery, negligence, discrimination, and racial profiling.”
The teen’s mother is also suing, seeking damages under the Family Law Act.
According to the lawsuit, the 19-year-old man was riding the 512 streetcar westbound on Feb. 18 near St. Clair Avenue West and Bathurst Street when he was grabbed by a fare inspector as he attempted to exit the vehicle.
“(He) was grabbed and thrown to the ground, face first, where he was pinned for an extended period of time by multiple TTC fare inspectors,” the statement of claim reads.
“At no point prior to this assault did the TTC inspectors seek to communicate with (him) or to identify themselves.”
Toronto police were called for backup, and the lawsuit claims police also assaulted the teen. He was eventually handcuffed and placed under arrest, the document states, before being released without charge “after 30 to 40 minutes of unlawful detainment.”
The statement of claim says the teen was suffering from an obvious head injury, but police didn’t take any steps “to ensure that he received immediate medical attention for his injuries.
“He suffered serious physical and psychological injuries as a result of this incident. He was never charged with any offence or TTC by-law infraction.”
The document states the teen suffered a traumatic brain injury and continues to suffer “severe emotional, psychological and/or mental trauma,” including blurred vision, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Bystander Bethany McBride recorded part of the incident and told CityNews what she witnessed.
“It looked like he was going to get off and (the fare inspectors) were making their rounds checking people’s transfers and they wanted to catch him before he made his way off the (streetcar),” she said.
“I saw the (teen) react semi-aggressively, in a defensive manner.”
She said the teen shoved the inspector and was then dragged off the streetcar and pinned to the ground.
In the video McBride shot, the teen can be heard saying: “I didn’t do anything,” 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.
At the time, TTC spokesman Stuart Green said 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.”
Toronto ombudsman Susan Opler has also announced a probe into the incident.
The TTC is conducting internal reviews which are still pending and told CityNews that it would not be commenting on the lawsuit until their reviews are completed.
“Once all investigations are complete, we will report to the TTC Board. The TTC takes all allegations and claims made against our employees seriously and deals with them on a case-by-case basis. One fare inspector remains suspended with pay pending the outcome of the reviews.”
Toronto police would only say that “It would be inappropriate to comment on this incident now that a statement of claim has been filed.”