DSB ticket officers face firing over violent incident

Video of controllers detaining a young man leads to an internal investigation

Two DSB ticket controllers may be fired after video has emerged of a September 7 incident in which they forcefully detained a mentally disturbed 19-year-old man.

In the video – which can be viewed here – the controllers can be seen throwing the screaming and crying man onto the floor and then sitting on him with their knees. They continue to physically detain him for nearly eight minutes, during which time the man can be heard screaming and crying while claiming that he can’t breathe and that the controllers are hurting his arm.

Other passengers can be heard asking the controllers to let the man off the ground, but are told by the controllers to mind their own business. One of the controllers can also be heard asking that the unknown individual filming the incident refrain from doing so, but the amateur cameraman refuses the request.

The video was uploaded to YouTube on September 19, but it was only in the last week that the case started to receive mainstream attention. In the YouTube description, the uploader wrote that the incident began when, on a routine ticket check, the young man – who gives his first name as Simon – shows the controller a paper train pass (klippekort) that does not contain enough stamps.  When asked by the controller why there aren’t a proper number of stamps, Simon responded: “Because I’m a pyschopath”. The witness wrote that the young man did not appear threatening and remained in his seat “completely passive and staring out the window”.

The incident escalated when a second ticket controller arrived and told Simon to leave his seat and head to the standing area. The YouTube description states that the original ticket controller “seemed hesitant” but the second controller roughly grabbed Simon’s arm and tried to pull him out of his seat. The young man and both controllers began yelling and the fellow passenger began filming the incident.

Now, the two controllers involved face disciplinary action from DSB.

DSB’s sales director, Niklas Marschall, told Politiken newspaper that the rail operator is performing an internal investigation.

“This is a huge case for us,” Marschall said. “All or internal resources are devoted to following up and clarifying the incident.”

Marschall told Politiken that ticket controllers are under no circumstances supposed to lay their hands on passengers and should instead call the police if confronted with an unstable situation.

In the videotaped incident, the controllers do call for police. Two police officers – one female and one male –  arrived when the train reached Nørreport Station and were able to calm the man down. After briefly detaining the man, Copenhagen Police determined they would press no charges against him and chose to drive him home “due to his state of mind”.

The video set off debate about the actions of DSB ticket controllers, with several YouTube commentators stating that the video did not represent an isolated event. When Politiken asked its readers if they had ever experienced a violent situation with train staff, sixteen concrete examples were reported.

Two passengers are the train with Simon, however, defended the controller’s actions to Politiken.

"The man resorted to physical self-defence and screaming, which was threatening to the officers and incredibly uncomfortable for the others [on the train]," passenger Anders DuPont told Politiken. "I think it was fair enough."

Passenger Claus Wessel also defended the controller, saying he was "glad they handled it the way they did".

The results of DSB’s internal investigation were due to be released as early as today.

See the video here.

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