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Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 11 December, 2019
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Investigation into Luas incident where man was held on ground as he told security guards 'I can't breathe'

Gardaí and Transdev are investigating the incident, which happened at the Jervis Luas stop.

GARDAÍ ARE INVESTIGATING an incident which saw an intending Luas passenger restrained on the ground for several minutes by staff members from the private firm tasked with providing security on the Luas system. 

Luas operator Transdev has said it is also investigating all of the facts associated with the incident, which happened on the platform of the city centre Jervis Street stop on Thursday evening last week. 

The man was held in a position which meant he was unable to get up by two officers from security firm STT Risk Management, footage of the incident shows. He can be heard repeatedly telling the two men that he can’t breathe as he struggles to rise to his feet. 

He alleges he had been told he wouldn’t be allowed on the tram, after getting into a verbal dispute with the security guards on the platform. 

Footage shows him being grabbed by the neck and taken to the ground by one of the guards after a tram had arrived as several passers-by remonstrate with the guards, insisting he had done nothing wrong. 

Video clips of the man being grabbed and brought down to the ground, recorded by other people on the platform, have been posted online. The footage shows one of the security staff calling the incident in to gardaí, as they restrain him on the ground.  

The man, Larry Bakare, told TheJournal.ie he had sustained a broken bone in his hand in the incident. He also had “a terrible pain in my back down from my neck,” he said.

Bakare said he contacted gardaí in the days following the incident to report that he had been assaulted.

STT Risk Management did not respond to a press query from this website. However, it’s believed the security firm also intends to make a report to gardaí alleging their staff members were assaulted – a claim Bakare denies. 

Bakare said the row began after he came across the security guards, who he said were hassling an older man near the platform.

He said he asked the security guards to leave the man alone, but that they had told him to go away. He was later told that he would not be let on the Luas, he said. 

A source with knowledge of the incident said that the older man who the security guards had been dealing with had urinated on the platform and was being told he wouldn’t be allowed on the next tram.

In phone footage taken by Larry Bakare he can be heard telling two security guards they are “stupid” and “dumb” and to leave him alone.

A longer clip, filmed after a tram had arrived at the platform, shows one of the security guards grab Bakare by the back of the neck and bring him to the ground, face-up, as he cries out.

Two guards then continue to restrain him. At times one has his hand on the man’s head, while the second guard can be seen placing his knee on Bakare’s lower back. 

Two other STT guards can be seen in footage asking other people on the platform to stay away from the incident. Several people can be seen filming and remonstrating with the group of four security staff. 

Bakare can be seen attempting to rise to his feet, at which point the two guards force him back down to the ground. One of the guards, at that point, turns to a camera and says “now he’s attacking”. 

In the minutes that follow, Bakare can be heard repeatedly calling out for help and telling the guards he can’t breathe. The guards can be heard asking him to calm down. 

At several points one of the guards can be heard telling Bakare to stop trying to bite him – and that he has to restrain him. 

Reported to gardaí

Gardaí later arrived at the scene and took statements, and Bakare said he boarded a later tram.

He insisted he had done nothing wrong and that the security guards’ actions had been unreasonable. In addition to the injury sustained in his hand, he said, “I couldn’t fully see during it either so I had to go to an eyesight and hearing doctor and they said it is okay, it was probably just the shock at the time”. 

He said his phone had also been damaged. 

One witness, who recorded part of the incident and said she later gave an account of what happened to gardaí, told TheJournal.ie that she first “heard shouting and aggressive noises” before witnessing Bakare being brought to the ground.

“When he was thrown down that’s when people really started shouting,” the witness said.

We were in complete shock, I’ve never seen someone thrown down like that, not even in fiction.

“He was seriously struggling and you could tell by the way he was shouting his voice was constricted and they wouldn’t let him go,” the witness said. 

STT are employed by the Luas operator to provide security on trams and on platforms across both the Red and Green lines. The firm’s website says that all its security agents are trained to FETAC Level 6 in Conflict Management at minimum. 

“The course content concentrates on practical, real world, aggression diffusion techniques,” the website says. 

A garda spokesperson said gardaí from Store Street were investigating an alleged assault on Thursday 19 September at the Jervis Street stop. 

CCTV footage has been sought by gardaí tasked with probing the incident, the spokesperson said. No arrests have been made. 

A spokesperson for Transdev said it was “aware of the incident and are investigating all of the facts associated with it”.

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