Just delayed = Justice denied?
UPDATE: SINCE THIS BLOG WAS WRITTEN, TORONTO POLICE HAVE UNDERTAKEN AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE ATTACK
A man is swarmed by several teens on a streetcar. Then he is dragged onto the sidewalk and bombarded with kicks and punches. It is a horrific scene to witness. The fact that the worst is yet to come is unfathomable.
It all happened right in front of me on an eastbound King streetcar, stopped at Sherbourne. About 10 young men – most with skateboards – had been behaving obnoxiously since I boarded a few stops back. A couple of them had been throwing items out the window at passing cars and pedestrians.
Suddenly, the entire group went silent as an older gentleman – one of the people they had hit with an object – boarded the streetcar. Sensing something was about to go down, I quickly hit the camera record button on my phone. Sure enough, the melee began the moment I started recording.
The older man had apparently made contact with one of the kids. A different teen shouted, “Don't touch him!” and jumped the man. Others joined in and began wailing on their target. It was sheer pandemonium. The people involved turned into a swirling ball of chaos, eventually rolling through the closed back doors. The victim landed on the sidewalk, but there was no time for him to get to his feet. Two, maybe three, of the boys were unrelenting with a series of kicks and punches to the man's turtled mass. One of the teens wielded his skateboard above his head. Distracted by the continued shuffling on the streetcar and now on the sidewalk, I couldn't tell whether any of the board blows made contact.
Within seconds, at the urging of their friends, the attackers relented. They returned to the streetcar, retrieved their belongings and left as the operator ordered them off. A few seconds later, the victim stood at the front of the streetcar. He was dazed, and most certainly injured.
Knowing these kids were making a break from the scene, I got off the streetcar and dialed 911.
“Police, fire or ambulance?” I told the dispatcher we needed police and explained what had occurred. Within seconds I was directing an arriving cruiser toward the throng of teens – now a block and a half away. I watched two cars pull up and corral the group. A man beside surveyed the scene; he had also called 911.
I walked three blocks east to 51 Division, where I offered my video footage as evidence. I was told the cameras on-board the streetcar would provide all the evidence needed and was sent on my way.
In the end, there were no charges laid, no victim accounted for, and no video evidence collected. Police later explained that because the victim had not reported the beating, there would be no investigation.
Despite two 911 calls reporting a criminal occurrence on a streetcar, police never called the TTC to ask officials to pull the tape. And within 15 hours of the event, the footage was deleted automatically.
The TTC says the operator of the streetcar failed to follow protocol by not calling transit control about the attack on TTC property.
Police say they received indications from witnesses that the victim may have been homeless. If this man wakes up the next day with a shattered pelvis and jaw fractures, and decides to contact police, his key evidence is lost.
The teens who beat this man so severely remain at large. Dozens of people on that crowded streetcar witnessed what must have been the most brutal attack most of them had ever seen. If they reacted like I did, they we left shaking and disturbed. It's all the more disturbing knowing that the systems in place to handle these types of public crimes failed so badly that night.