STM officers forcefully detained a commuter in April.
An external report on the conduct of STM officers during a violent intervention at Jean-Talon metro has concluded that the officers in question were "justified" using force. The incident occurred on April 17, 2021, when two STM officers detained a commuter who allegedly didn't pay a fare.
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The incident, which was captured on video, caused a public outcry about the STM officers' conduct and called into question the tactics used by metro officers to apprehend people.
Comment sommes nous sens\u00e9s se sentir en s\u00e9curit\u00e9 ?pic.twitter.com/UuO7UTcMav— big burr (@big burr) 1618704884
What happened on April 17?
The video depicts two STM officers in a struggle with, reportedly, a Black woman who didn't pay her fare.
The officers wrestle the woman to the ground. One officer, in an attempt to subdue the woman, appears to strike the woman in the head and face.
Bystanders attempt to pull the officers off the woman and one can be heard asking the officers to stop.
In April, the STM issued a statement that said, "As is often the case with this type of video, we do not see the entire event and the elements that led to the intervention [...] the force applied must be proportional to the degree of resistance and aggressiveness of the person. In this case, the person was aggressive, actively resisted and bit our employee, in particular refusing to release the bite."
What did the investigator have to say?
The STM commissioned the external investigation, conducted by police ethics lawyer Marco Gaggino, following its own inquest into the matter. In the end, Gaggino reached the same conclusions as the STM.
"In using force with respect to the person involved, and that this force was reasonable, necessary and in compliance with the Modèle national d'emploi de la force," explained Gaggino.
The video prompted some members of the public to suggest that racial profiling was at play. But the investigator wrote that "the facts of the case do not allow me to conclude that ulterior motives, such as racial profiling, were the cause of the inspectors' intervention, nor that such motives could have guided their decisions or their way of intervening."
Gaggino outlined three recommendations that he hopes the STM will implement:
- "Review the coverage of its internal cameras in the metro to ensure that there are no blind spots in places where inspectors are likely to intervene and that it consider providing inspectors with body cameras with audio capabilities;"
- "Review, in concert with external security resources, the way in which it processes and transfers requests for external reinforcement;"
- "Provide inspectors with training on the theory and practice of on-foot pursuit, adapted to the reality of the STM for underground interventions."
For its part, the STM explained that it "aims at improving accountability given that special constables are subject to the regulation on police ethics." It said it would not comment further because of ongoing legal matters.
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