TTC bust-up video: Dad thrown around 'like a rag doll'
Jamie Gillman says Wednesday would have been the worst day of his life if not for Jan. 29, when he was pummelled by a TTC transit enforcement officer at Union Station.
"They were both the worst," the 33-year-old told the Toronto Sun in an exclusive interview from his Toronto home. "I would say they were like 1A and 1B."
But every day since the incident at Union Station in which he and his father, Russell, 63, were arrested and charged with assaulting transit officers and threatening death has been a struggle for the husband of Kailee and father of 15-month-old son Cole.
"It has been very tough. I feel we were both assaulted," the general contractor said. "I am still being treated for a concussion and I am still having difficulty dealing with normal things."
It was ugly.
The violent arrest, which is now under review by the Toronto Police's professional standards unit at the request of TTC CEO Andy Byford, is not just hurting him physically.
"It's in my mind as well. And on my mind," Gillman said. "It was not easy seeing my father being pounded. In fact, it was awful. Very disturbing. It weighs on me."
One positive about it all though, he said, was that very few people knew about it.
"We were hoping it would be settled. We didn't think we had done anything wrong. On my lawyer Bruce Daley's advice, other than my immediately family, we did not talk about it with anyone," he said. "Since very few people knew about it, we were hoping it would be resolved and we could move on."
Everything changed Tuesday night.
Thanks to social media, out comes a video of the incident for all to see, city councillors commenting on it, morning radio calling them drunks, a news conference at the TTC talking about a police investigation, and then the public humiliation that he and his dad were charged criminally.
In Jamie's case, charged with two counts of assault and two counts of uttering death threats. He and his father are set to make an appearance in Old City Hall court April 15.
"It is so embarrassing," he said. "I have never, ever been in trouble with police or security in my life and I also had never been in a fight." He was in a doozy this time --with him taking at least six serious blows to the head.
"It's a blur," he said. "I was in shock and still am. I still can't believe any of it happened." And he said he still doesn't know why it happened.
"Maybe the officers were having a bad day, I don't know," he said. "But I can tell you this was just a dad and his son coming home from a Maple Leafs game. That is all."
He said that they did have a beer at the game but were in no way intoxicated or acting up in any way. Gillman said after the 3-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes, he went through the turnstiles and put in his token. His dad went through the manned booth to pay a cash fare.
"There were lots of people there and I looked over at the booth and I saw a guy being tackled and brought to the ground," he said. "They were piling on him for what looked like no reason. They were throwing him around like a rag doll. I was blown away by how they were treating the guy."
That guy was his father.
"I could not believe what I was seeing," he said. "It was so upsetting." He said he tried to reason with the officers but things became even more heated and punches were thrown that looked like something out of the UFC.
"The second guy who came in was fully energized," said soft-spoken Jamie. "He hit me hard. I was so confused. It is all so unexplainable." When the dust settled, he said, he was placed in custody and criminally charged. He says he was never given a proper explanation.
"I still don't know what it is about but I did tell them I paid and I know my dad paid," he said. "It's like they wanted to pick a bone with someone. It turned out it was us but I think it could have been anybody."
Lawyer Daley, once an RCMP special constable himself, said he represents police officers and has "so much respect for law enforcement." But, he said, this case is over the top.
"I can't believe what I saw with the use of this force over nothing. I would not accept if it was on people who may not be good people and I certainly can't on those who are good people." Daley says the Gillmans are exactly that.
"I have known Jamie all his life and his father for 35 years," he said, adding he will use all of his experience to ensure that this situation is brought to a proper conclusion. "No one deserves to be treated like this."
Certainly, as a columnist reaching out to policing sources Wednesday, I could not find one that was able to say striking a suspect in the face and head like Jamie was hit is in any police training manuals. There needs to be a fair probe for sure but I don't have to sit in the middle and say that this arrest was in any way normal because it was not. There was no need for this incident to go down like it did. Somebody has to stand up for a higher standard.
That said, I have asked to also speak with the main TTC officer involved because like with Jamie Gillman, there are a lot of people who would like to hear his side of the story and keep an open mind.
The TTC says the incident began when a transit enforcement officer was assaulted.
"Andy indicated today, and I have as well, that the CCTV shows the incident began with an assault of our TEO at the fare gate, which then escalated," TTC spokesman Brad Ross said Wednesday night.
But Jamie Gillman said neither he nor his father assaulted anybody, or were rowdy or lippy, and he hopes CCTV video will show "more of what happened than what was in the video shown today."
Unlike some politicians trying to score political points on this, this incident certainly does not take anything away from the TTC special constables or the transit enforcement officers. They do a great job.
Just not this time.
Now that we have met Jamie, it's kind of difficult to sign on to any narrative suggesting that he and his father are trouble makers.
But a whole city is all ears to find out how this could happen. Jamie said he and his dad are among those hoping for proper answers.
While he waits for it to sort itself out, Jamie said he plans on not doing too much more talking since it's now before the courts and Toronto Police are investigating.
However, he said, he does appreciate all the support that has come his and his father's way since their names were made public Wednesday and assures the people of Toronto they respect law enforcement. "There is no question about that," he said, adding he was raised by an insurance man and said neither he nor his dad have never had any brush with the law.
That all changed Jan. 29 after a dad and son outing to the hockey game.
"This has been very difficult for us," he said. "We feel as if we were jumped."
Now, he said, his plan is to try to move forward, raise his family and try to forget about the two worst days of his life.