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Op-Ed: TTC case may not be police brutality – but civilian foolishness

TTC and Gillmans

The video, posted online by a passerby, was filmed in February and it shows a father and son, Russell and Jamie Gillman, battle TTC constables along with a fare collector at Union Station. Eventually Toronto police came along and helped the constables and it is police who investigated the brawl.

Toronto Police investigators have now ruled the two TTC security officers, Jason Barber and Brandon Higgins, were justified in their use of force. Police investigating police is not an ideal situation but in this case the video supports their findings.

Now TTC constables do not have the full authority of regular police officers. They carry only collapsable batons and handcuffs but they do have the ability to make arrests on TTC property. In this case in the midst of a busy TTC station after a Toronto Maple Leafs game, they were trying to arrest the dad, who may or may not have been drunk.

Video of TTC brawl

The video doesn’t show what began the incident but we do see an officer tell the elder Gillman that he is under arrest. Dad, 63, decides he isn’t going to cooperate and resists. His son gets involved and is soon told he’s going to be handcuffed and he too takes the path of the most resistance.

“I don’t understand how they can say it’s justified the way they acted,” poor Jamie, 33, told media (likely thinking lawsuit down the road). “When one guy is pinning me and other guy is punching me as hard as he could with so many overhand rights.”

Any chance they hit you due to the fact you were resisting arrest, Jamie? For a lengthy period of time? Jamie, the police were trying to handcuff you and your father and take you both into custody. They can be heard telling you just that.

But you chose to be a tough guy.

Now have you ever heard of the police, anywhere, say “well, we were going to take you into custody, and felt justified in doing so, but you’re too tough. You hit us and keep struggling and we aren’t capable of arresting either of you so – never mind. Move along and enjoy the rest of your evening.”

I’ve never heard of it and doubt I ever will. And any officer who did such a thing would likely be out of work. Now that don’t mean the Gillmans should have been taken into custody, though it certainly appears the constables were justified in that assessment, too.

Reasons for ruling

Jamie was indeed punched while being held. But that is because he was continuing to struggle and had punched a constable, multiple times. And Gillman Sr., who also appears to have tossed a punch or two, was thrown to the ground because he refused to stop resisting arrest. Throwing him to the ground was a last resort. That worked rather well.

The Gillmans were rather like small children getting into a war with their parents. Pushing the envelope until a parent says “that’s it, you’re getting a consequence’ (the arrest).” What does the kid do? Dig his heels in even more until he earns another consequence (getting punched or thrown to the ground).

Joe Warmington, a Toronto Sun columnist, expressed the opinion the police should give their reasons for the ruling. And he disagress with the ruling.

Hello, Joe!!! The Gillmans were being arrested and refused to cooperate, instead initiating a fight. It shouldn’t take the equivalent of a journalistic rocket scientist to get that. And, hey, all it really means is this: if you fight a police officer then the police officer will fight you back.

Simple. Justified.

How did we become a society that watches grown men struggle, fight and punch security officers entrusted with keeping a transit station safe for the public, and then complain about the officers? Do we really hate the police that much? Are we, too, like kids forever challenging Mom and Dad?

Instead of Gillman Sr. getting a minor charge or no charge at all, just taken into custody and released, the Gillmans are each charged with assaulting law enforcement officers. But they and their outraged lawyer get their day in the media spotlight so perhaps they find it all worthwhile. But, again, I’m with the cops on this one.

Surely you are, too, no?

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