GO Transit officers under scrutiny over Union Station arrest

The conduct of transit officers is coming under scrutiny again after GO Transit constables were filmed arresting a man who may have been suffering from mental health issues.

A cellphone video posted online Tuesday by journalist and activist Desmond Cole captures the arrest of a 34-year-old man by transit officers and Toronto police at the Union Station bus terminal on the early morning of March 11.

According to police, the incident took place over roughly 90 minutes. The video, which was shot by an unnamed bystander, has been edited down to five minutes and 24 seconds, which Cole said was necessary in part to protect the man’s identity.

Cole, who is a former Star columnist, wrote that the incident constituted “police brutality.” Spokespersons for both the police and Metrolinx, the provincial agency that operates GO, said they’ve seen no evidence officers did anything wrong.

Cole didn’t immediately share an unedited version of the video with the Star on Tuesday, and didn’t put a reporter in touch with the witness who shot the footage.

The posted video shows three GO Transit officers confronting the man as he sits quietly on a bench at the downtown bus terminal.

“I’m trying to prevent you from getting arrested … I understand you got some mental health issues,” one of the officers says. The man appears to say he’d be willing to take an ambulance, and the officer responds “We’ve requested that for you.”

One of the officers tells the man he’s under arrest and asks him to stand up and turn around. When he doesn’t comply, the officers grab and restrain him.