TTC CEO apologizes to teen forcibly pinned down by fare inspectors

Sep 19 2019, 1:04 pm

The CEO of Toronto’s transit authority has apologized to a black teen who sued the agency after he was forcibly pinned down and detained by multiple fare inspectors last year.

TTC CEO Rick Leary said he apologized to Reece Maxwell-Crawford this week and vowed the agency would “do better” and adopt recommendations made by Toronto’s ombudsman Susan Opler.

Opler released a report on the incident in July and said the TTC’s investigation into the situation fell short in several ways.

The report made six recommendations to improve the transit commission’s investigations, such as providing additional training for its internal investigators and ensuring impartiality.

During a press conference on Thursday, Leary said he spoke with Maxwell-Crawford on Wednesday to discuss the settlement reached in the teen’s civil suit stemming from the incident, which took place on February 18, 2018.

“We had a good, productive conversation and I was able to apologize to him for his unfortunate experience.”

Leary said both Maxwell-Crawford and he agreed that it’s time to “turn the page” and look toward the future.

“A future in which the TTC is an organization that is committed to addressing bias and discrimination, both conscious and unconscious; and a future in which the TTC is a transit agency all of our customers can have faith that they are being treated fairly and with respect.”

He added that when it comes to combatting anti-black racism and all forms of discrimination in both operational and corporate culture in Toronto, “we can, should, and must do better.”

“And do better, we will,” said Leary, adding, “it is my fundamental belief that the TTC, and all public agencies, have a responsibility to treat everyone with respect and with dignity.”

Following the 2018 incident, videos were widely shared on social media, which led to the media and members of the public wanting to know “why the fare inspectors detained him, whether they used unnecessary force, and whether anti-Black racism was a factor,” according to the ombudsman’s report.

This led to the TTC launching an internal investigation conducted by the TTC’s Investigative Services and the Diversity and Human Rights departments.

The TTC’s investigation found there was “insufficient evidence to support a finding of discreditable conduct against two of the three Transit Fare Inspectors.”

The investigation did find, however, that one of the fare inspectors smiled at the customer, which was referred to as “unprofessional and discreditable conduct.”

Opler said the TTC failed to analyze evidence that would suggest whether racism – conscious or unconscious – was a factor the inspectors’ actions.

She made a series of recommendations to improve the TTC’s approach to discrimination, including a call to ensure that all investigations are independent and impartial.