By Natasha Brown
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An arrest on a SEPTA train is caught on camera and it has transit officials rethinking their policies.
How should police handle a suspect who’s holding a child?
Ahmad Najam had no idea that a video he shared on social media would lead to an internal affairs investigation of a 16-year veteran SEPTA police officer.
“The cop told him to get off the train and he said ‘no I’m not getting off of the train.’ They were cursing back and forth at each other.”
SEPTA Police were attempting to remove 20-year-old Ellis Smith from the Market-Frankford El Thursday evening.
He boarded the train with a little girl in his arms at the Margaret and Oxford station when a cashier reported seeing him evading fare and jumping on the train.
At the next stop, a SEPTA police officer confronts him and tries to persuade him to get off the train, produce identification and accept a citation.
“The point of contact to the point where handcuffs are placed on the person is 14 minutes long.”
The heated verbal exchange between the two became physical, all the while the child is caught in the middle.
“Another rider attempts to take the child, but he doesn’t release the child.”
Backup later arrives and Najam’s video captures the tense moments on the platform.
Chief Thomas Nestel says, “We can’t endanger the lives of little kids over fare evasion. That’s unacceptable. That’s on me.”
Nestel is calling for better training of his officers in situations like this one.
Najam says he has no regrets on capturing the video, hoping it becomes a teachable moment.
“It’s a matter of how situations should be handled.”
Community activists are calling for the immediate removal of the officer from the SEPTA police force.
An internal affairs investigation is currently underway.