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Police justify cuffing commuter

From Monday's Globe and Mail

MONTREAL — Police in Laval, Que., are denying allegations by a subway commuter that they went too far when they cuffed and ticketed her for refusing to hold onto an escalator handrail.

"There is nothing here to indicate that the police officers didn't do their job correctly," Laval police spokeswoman Constable Nathalie Lorrain said yesterday. "I understand that there is anger here, but the rules have to be enforced."

Bela Kosoian, a 38-year-old mother of two, said she was mistreated last Wednesday in a station in the Montreal suburb after two officers told her to hold onto the handrail and she didn't immediately comply because she didn't understand the instruction.

The international-law student had been rummaging in her backpack for fare money. After she was again told to hang on, she said she replied: "I don't have three hands."

That's when one of the two officers demanded identification so he could write her a ticket, she added.

When she started protesting, she was handcuffed and taken to a small holding cell, she said. She was given a $100 ticket for failing to hold the banister and a $320 ticket for obstruction.

Ms. Lorrain said the officers initially asked her in a friendly manner to be careful and hold onto the handrail but, according to Ms. Lorrain, she screamed at them that she would not comply.

Ms. Kosoian said yesterday that the officers never specified she was breaking any rules. She said she has received offers from lawyers to take on her case, but that she is still mulling what action to take, including possibly filing a human-rights complaint.

"This was abuse of power," she said.

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