Just days after the Toronto Transit Commission revealed plans to ramp up efforts to curb fare evasion, video has emerged of two of its staff tackling a rider and spraying him with a substance during a violent arrest.
Footage of the incident, which took place on Queen Street East on the 501 streetcar route Friday morning was posted to Twitter by a rider who said it took place around 7:50 a.m.
“Everything escalated in less than a second,” tweeted user @CascadingDesign, who posted the 12-second video.
CBC Toronto was unable to reach the poster, however they provided a long string of details on Twitter.
It began, the poster said, when a man who appeared to be intoxicated was approached by fare inspectors, who asked for proof of payment.
“He blew them off. Then they insisted, stopped the streetcar, and as he got up they crowded in,” the user tweeted.
That’s when things turned physical, the video poster continued. Moments later, the person who was recording the video was forced off the streetcar, which can be seen in the footage, and the man on the streetcar was handcuffed.
“Before the officers got on, he had kicked his shoes off and was randomly yelling at people, but if you ignored him… he wouldn’t have been a danger to anybody,” the poster said.
In a statement to CBC News, the TTC said the incident occurred during a routine fare inspection.
“The altercation involving two TTC Special Constables took place after they were approached by several customers on board the vehicle who had concerns,” said spokesperson Hayley Waldman in an email statement.
Toronto police said in an email statement the man was reportedly “acting aggressive and violent.”
He was arrested by TTC personnel and taken to 51 Division, where police are continuing to investigate.
At least one city councillor has spoken out in reaction to the video. Coun. Brad Bradford called it an example of the “wrong way to handle fare evasion.”
This week, the TTC’s audit committee estimated that the transit agency lost $70.3 million to fare evasion in 2019.
That’s up from 2018’s amount, which the city’s auditor general estimated at $61 million.
By this fall, the TTC is aiming to have 111 fare inspectors and 72 special constables to patrol the system.
“The TTC’s Fare Inspectors are provided extensive training on customer service, including mental health awareness, diversity and inclusion, human rights, and confronting anti-Black racism training aimed to prevent racial bias,” a report on the plan notes.