June 29, 2015
A man who was shoved up against the wall of a SEPTA train while holding his one-year-old daughter by a cop for allegedly not paying his $2.25 fare says he actually did pay.
In an interview with NBC Philadelphia, Ellis Smith's attorney said that although the 20-year-old did in fact pay his way for the train ride on the Market/Franford line at the Margaret/Orthodox station on Thursday, June 25, the woman working the gate was displeased with the way he was holding his daughter on top of his shoulders.
EARLIER STORY: Video: SEPTA officer shoves man holding toddler over skipped $2.25 fare
Smith proceeded to squeeze past the turnstile to get on to the platform, and what ensued next was captured on video, sparking controversy and prompting an internal investigation from SEPTA.
A SEPTA officer confronted Smith on the train for allegedly not paying his fare. After a few minutes and Smith refusing to get off the train, the officer appears to grab Smith by the throat and shove him against the wall of the train, all while his daughter is still in his hands.
A struggle ensued involving multiple officers, with the 18-month-old girl still in Smith's hands as he was apprehended.
Septa Police Chief Thomas Nestel held a press conference on Friday after a video of the incident went viral. Nestel announced the launch of an internal investigation into the incident and how officers respond to fair aversion.
"We can't endanger the lives of little kids over fare evasion. That's unacceptable. That's on me," Nestel said.
Smith told NBC Philadelphia he took his daughter to the hospital following the incident. Although she suffered no physical injuries, he was concerned about her potential emotional trauma.
The officer who arrested Smith in the incident is a 16-year veteran who has yet to be identified. Smith is still charged with fare evasion, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Watch the interview with NBC Philadelphia here.