NEWS
08/06/2015 01:33 EDT | Updated 07/24/2019 14:00 EDT

Toronto Cyclist Claims Police Violence Against Her. But They Say Otherwise.

"This is what happens when someone resists arrest, there's a physical element involved."

Toronto police are denying accusations that they roughed up a cyclist near the intersection of College and Spadina last month.

The cyclist wrote about the interaction in a now-deleted Facebook note on Saturday titled, “my black life matters. call to action. standing in love and transformation #blacklivesmatter.”

While cycling to a music event on July 11, the cyclist was stopped by two officers for apparently running a red light. When asked to produce identification, the cyclist said she told them she wasn’t carrying any, and that she had not done anything wrong.

After being asked again for ID or face arrest, the cyclist repeated her answer.

“Next thing I know the two officers are on me, one at my front, one at my back. I’m saying, ‘What are you doing? Stop that, I haven’t done anything wrong,’” the cyclist wrote.

She said the officers had her “face down on the ground” and that one pressed a knee to her jaw before they took her to a police cruiser.

“My legs give out, panic ensues and escalates,” the cyclist wrote. “My body collapses over my legs and I am small. I make myself small and they can’t move me anymore.”

Part of the incident was captured in a 16-minute YouTube video titled “Police Carding in Toronto, ON” that was posted online Saturday. 

The cyclist wrote that she went into a “panic attack” during the 20-minute arrest.

She was released after police verified her identity through a phone and a bank card. She was issued a ticket for cycling through an amber light.

The cyclist said that she suffered minor bruising and swelling but “couldn’t stand up straight for two days, or lift my arms above my shoulders without pain” for a week.

Freelance journalist Desmond Cole used social media to criticize the police for their handling of the arrest.

He said a superintendent told him police would investigate how the cyclist was treated.

However, a Toronto police spokesman described the incident — which was recorded on an in-car police camera — quite differently.

In an interview with The Huffington Post Canada, Const. Victor Kwong said the cycist was spotted cycling through an amber light — which officers initially thought was red — right in front of a police car.

The officer in the passenger seat spoke to her three times in an attempt to pull her over, but she refused, Kwong said.

The police then pulled their car in front of her, and at that point the cyclist left her bike and tried to walk away.

The officers then exited the cruiser, told her she had violated the Highway Traffic Act, and asked for identification, Kwong said.

On the third repeated request, the officers warned the cyclist she would be arrested if she refused again. According to Kwong, she told them “go ahead.”

As the officers begin arresting her, the cyclist began “screaming, yelling ad throwing a fit,” said Kwong, adding that some bystanders tried to convince the woman to calm down.

Described by police as a “fit woman, [the cyclist] refused to put her arms behind her back, and dropped to the ground, pulling the officers with her.

“I’m not disputing that she was down on the ground and we were down there with her,” said Kwong. “This is what happens when someone resists arrest, there’s a physical element involved.”

‘Derogatory’ comments about police

Kwong claims that the cyclist also made some “derogatory” remarks to the officers about police shootings.

In the video posted to YouTube, the cyclist can be heard saying, “I know you’re police, you have all the power. You can take me, you can kill me.... Just do it, you do it all the time. Why do you think I’m so f***ing scared?”

Kwong said there is no investigation into the cyclist’s arrest, and police are fact-checking whether Cole was ever called about it.

Kwong also denied that the cyclist had been carded, as the title of the video claims.

Cole has written extensively about the practice of carding, where police stop and document people who have not been suspected of crimes.

The Toronto Star reported in 2013 that black people made up 25 per cent of cardings between 2008 and 2011.

 

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