City opposition continues to press for probe into métro assault

«They cannot sweep it under the rug.» Videotaped beating by inspectors in Villa Maria station has been viewed more than 350,000 times.

Juliano Gray describes being beaten by STM inspectors at a press conference on March 26. Allen McInnis / Montreal Gazette

The opposition at city hall will present a motion at the next council meeting demanding an independent investigation into the beating of a 21-year-old man in Villa Maria métro station.

“They cannot simply sweep it under the rug,” Ensemble Montréal leader Lionel Perez said at a news conference Tuesday attended by representatives from eight anti-racism and community organizations, as well as Juliano Gray, the man who was beaten.

There have been more than 350,000 views of a video on Facebook showing two métro inspectors beating Gray with batons on the station’s platform March 7 after stopping him on a northbound Orange Line métro train for bouncing a ball and not having a ticket.

But Société de Transport de Montréal chairperson Philippe Schnobb has denied the inspectors used excessive force, maintaining they “acted according to the standards and procedures put in place by the STM.”

Schnobb said on March 18 that an internal investigation determined the inspectors had acted properly and no further action was required.

Mayor Valérie Plante has supported Schnobb’s stance but said she is open to looking into ways to make métro inspectors more accountable, since they are not currently covered by the Quebec Police Ethics Commissioner.

On April 3, the STM adopted a motion requesting that its inspectors be given the status of special constables, which would confer extra powers like the right to make arrests and to access the police database. It would also place them under the jurisdiction of the Police Ethics Commissioner.

At present, métro inspectors help direct passengers, check that they have paid their fares and can detain a person until police arrive.

At the news conference, Perez and independent councillor Marvin Rotrand opposed the idea of giving additional powers to métro police, saying there are other ways to make them more accountable, like setting up an independent body to investigate complaints.

Gray, whose case is being championed by the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), has filed a criminal complaint against the two inspectors. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after the incident, he said Tuesday he recently began a new job as a dishwasher.

The motion, to be tabled at the May 13 council meeting, calls on the city to launch an independent inquiry without delay and submit the report to city council and the STM.

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