Police in Hamilton, Ont., are searching for a group of people they say assaulted two security guards at Jackson Square mall on Monday.
A video that shows a portion of the incident has surfaced on YouTube and has been watched more than 62,000 times.
Police were called about the incident around 3:50 p.m. According to police, Jackson Square security officers from Intelligarde had dealt with a group of men who were riding their BMX bicycles in the food court and “had been belligerent with the officers and were asked to leave the property.”
The men came back a short time later. Mall security told them to leave, and that’s when the men became “verbally aggressive,” police say.
"Our guys felt they were looking for a fight," Intelligarde chief operating officer Chris Botting told CBC News.
But BMX rider Tyler Rizzi says things went down very differently. “Basically myself and four of my friends went into a mall to get food with our bikes and two security guards came up and told us we weren't allowed to have our bikes in the mall,” a statement he wrote attached to the YouTube clip reads. “So we said ‘OK, we will leave after we get our food that we had ordered.’” He says the group were not riding their bikes inside the mall.
“Then they started shoving me and my other friend, telling us to leave when most of us hadn't even got the food we ordered yet.”
Officers had 'no other option,' police say
The statement goes on to say that he and his friends left and ate outside near the mall. After they finished, three of them went back to the mall security office to ask for management’s contact information, “which they did not give very willingly."
Intelligarde's Botting says the video doesn't tell the whole story. He says the group of men was also taping security inside the mall — but that portion of the video wasn't put up because it would show both sides of the story. "We think the video was put up the way it was to present them in a more favourable light," he said.
According to police, once the group was outside of the building but still on Jackson Square property, they still refused to leave. “The officers were left with no other option and attempted to arrest the males under the Trespass to Property Act for failing to leave when directed,” a police news release reads.
During the arrest one of the men punched an officer in the face, police say, and the second security officer also received a facial injury. “It is believed there were three suspects involved in the incident, one of which may have captured the attack on his cell phone,” the police news release reads.
'That's when I lost it'
According to Rizzi, the guards provoked the group on the way out, and one of the men was shoved for “no reason at all.”
“As we got out the door he knew my friend was filming, [and he mouthed] ‘I'm going to kill you.’ That’s when I lost it,” he said. “When they got me on the ground, I felt them legitimately trying to break my arm, they weren't just putting my hand behind my back. Luckily my friend who was around the corner got there in time to help me out.”
“One officer proceeded to go after my friend and got him on the ground. The other officer then turned to him as well and started to knee him in the ribs while yelling ‘get on the ground’ when he was already on the ground not resisting at all. Which is why I hit him.”
According to police, the three men ran off before any officers got there. Police searched the area but couldn’t find them.
But Rizzi says after the group "laid low for a bit," they went back to riding close to the mall. The group saw three police cars and two bicycle cops in that time, he says, but no one stopped to ask them any questions.
Both of the security guards were taken to hospital with non life-threatening injuries. Botting says they should be back at work soon. One of the men required stitches to close the gash above his eye. "It definitely wasn't pretty," Botting said.
Police are searching for three men in relation to the incident and continue to investigate. Both parties seem to want the other side arrested for assault. "We gave them several chances to leave," Botting said. "We hope that assault-related charges will be laid."
Rizzi, for his part, is looking for something similar. He was also surprised when he was told that police were looking for him. "As a BMXer we deal with security on a regular basis, he said. "But we've never come across two individuals on a power trip like that."
"I would like to see them lose their jobs and get charged with assault. What they did just wasn't right."
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