MONTREAL – After city guides announced on Monday that they would ensure an independent review of a violent incident at a subway station this weekend, the Montreal transit agency made it clear what it would be.
The STM has already carried out a preliminary investigation, the agency wrote in a statement. A lawyer, Marco Gaggino, has now been asked to review these preliminary results.
The STM has so far found that transit officers followed their training on the use of force in a videotaped incident in which two of them stuck a woman to the ground after she dodged and tried to leave the scene and an officer appears to hit her in the head.
The agency said that during the altercation, the woman bit the police officer hard enough to break her skin. Her friends told CTV they needed a hospital visit after the incident. She hasn’t spoken to the media yet.
“The preliminary results of the internal investigation, including an examination of the various videotapes available, show that the inspectors’ intervention followed the rules for the use of force taught at the Quebec National Police Academy,” the STM board wrote in one Explanation.
“The STM has asked Mr. Gaggino to review the analysis and is open to welcome and implement any resulting recommendations.”
The STM described Gaggino in its Tuesday publication as a “lawyer specializing in police ethics” and said he would provide independent oversight.
Documents available online show that Gaggino has previously represented the Quebec Police Department on multiple occasions, including for the Quebec Mounted Police Association on a labor matter and for a provincial police group called ADPQ when they were granted the status of participant on the Viens Commission Investigation of the indigenous people wished experience in Quebec
Gaggino has not yet responded to a request for comment on his training in police ethics or his proposed approach to the exam.
The STM states that it has not commented further on the process at this time and has not provided a schedule for conducting the audit.
A Montreal city spokesman said the decision to hire Gaggino was what she intended to do, even though it wasn’t her own choice.
“It is a decision by the STM Board of Directors that is in line with our orientations and expectations of having a more neutral process while we wait for that [provincial police watchdog agency] Having jurisdiction, “said spokeswoman Catherine Cadotte.
She was referring to the fact that the Montreal transit inspectors will be given a new, more official “constable” status in July, giving them more authority and more control.
As with the regular Quebec police force, their actions can be investigated by the police ethics committee and the BEI, which automatically determines if someone is injured or killed in connection with police operations.
The STM board said in its statement that it knows the footage captured that weekend is widespread and has compromised people’s confidence in the transit system.
“I realize what happened can seem shocking,” said Philippe Schnobb, chairman of the STM board, the statement said.
“We read, hear and see what is said and posted, and we know that the relationship between us and our customers has been shaken by the content of the video.”
As a public transport company, maintaining customer trust is “essential, which is why we bring in an independent outside expert,” he said.
While the board said the officials have not yet stepped out of their training, the director general of the transit network said he wanted to look into how such incidents can be avoided from now on.
“Our inspectors have a complex job,” said Luc Tremblay, the general manager. “I want us to look at what led to this intervention and what could be done to reduce the need for such an approach in the future.”
The statement also stated that the change in special police status in July will also improve the training of transit officers.