Footage of an incident in which STM officers tackled two individuals at Atwater metro station this week is quickly circulating the internet. Several eye-witnesses captured video of the remarkable conflict and posted their accounts online.
Now, Kya Morgan and Kareem Giles, the two people forced to the floor, are sharing their side of the story, hoping to make an example of the event and force positive change in the way transit officers interact with metro passengers in similar situations.
The altercation began, Kya says, when she used her valid OPUS card to pass through the metro turnstiles and Kareem, who didn't have the money to pay for fare, bypassed the barrier.
TL;DR Kya Morgan and Kareem Giles are offering their perspective on the incident in which two STM officers used force to subdue them.
After the pair descended to the platform below, STM officers caught them and directed them to return to the level above, an order they obeyed.
Kareem passed again through the turnstiles to receive his fine while Kya waited on the other side. After the officers gave Kareem his infraction ticket, Kya open the stroller gate and beckoned him to follow onto the metro platform, thinking he may as well pass since he had already received a fine.
It was then, Kya recounts, that an STM officer confronted her and told her to close the gate and, after an argument, slammed the gate closed on her foot and ordered her to exit the embarkment zone.
She refused, explaining that she had paid her fare. Eventually, the officer pushed her back through the gate. She physically resisted. In response, she says the officer forced her to the ground.
The sad thing is it wasnt even over 3.25$, I had my opus.
My friend got caught jumping the metro & while waiting for him to get his ticket, they tried to throw me out also but I already scanned my opus¿ so when I resisted from them trying to throw me out.. it escalated to this. https://t.co/uc8BysZvOJ
Another officer brought Kareem to the floor with a chokehold after he attempted to defend her.
Kya says the officer used all of his body weight to keep her down, pressing his knee into her back and, eventually, her head. In the video below, Kya can be heard yelling, "You're on my head! You're on my head!"
Kareem says there were points when he had difficulty breathing.
Kya says she has since been diagnosed with a concussion and Kareem is also seeking medical attention for lingering physical pain.
The STM officers gave both Kareem and Kya an additional fine for "obstructing justice" and called SPVM officer to the scene. The police determined that no criminal offense took place.
But Kya says the STM officers mischaracterized the event to the police and that the SPVM ignored her when she attempted to offer her perspective on the incident.
Kareem is accepting his fine for jumping the turnstiles but he and Kya are contesting the fine for obstructing justice.
While the STM officers claimed they were following procedure when they used force to subdue them, Kya and Kareem hope the incident sparks a review of these practices.
"This is not the first time this has happened" and "it needs to stop," says Kya.
Correction: An earlier version of this article related that STM officers used a chokehold maneuver on both Kya and Kareem. They have clarified that, in fact, only Kareem was in a chokehold.