Karl Lusawovana Nunu is still struggling to understand how a SkyTrain ride last fall ended with a looming court date.
“For me, it was just like, shock,” the former B.C. man said.
On Sept. 14, 2018, Lusawovana Nunu and his friend and colleague, Chris Nicholson, took the train to Vancouver for a night out. The evening was to be a final celebration before Lusawovana’s company transfer to Calgary, where he would join his wife and four children.
Lusawovana Nunu bought a single Compass ticket at Columbia Station while Nicholson used his Compass Card.
When the pair disembarked the train at Stadium Station, Nicholson witnessed two attempts by Lusawovana Nunu to tap his ticket to exit the fare gates.
“He tapped it twice and it didn’t respond to the tap,” Nicholson told Global News. “So I just assisted him through the gate.”
When Nicholson used his Compass Card to tap them both through the fare gates, Lusawovana Nunu says a Transit Police officer yelled for him to stop — and then accused him of following someone through the gate.
“I’m like, yes, but I have a valid card,” Lusawovana Nunu said he told the officer. “I tapped it twice and it didn’t open the gates.”
Despite trying to explain what happened, Lusawovana Nunu was handed a $173 ticket for illegally going through an open fare gate.
As he and his friend left the station, Lusawovana Nunu says he tapped his ticket a third time and the fare gate finally opened.
“If I’m holding a valid ticket, my intent wasn’t just to come to Stadium and start playing with the gate or trying to follow somebody,” Lusawovana Nunu said. “This is not right.”
Lusawovana Nunu reported the incident and says Transit Police opened an investigation. He provided them with a copy of his bank statement, which shows his $2.95 fare ticket was purchased from the Compass vending machine at 9:22 p.m. on Sept. 14, 2018.
The investigating officer also viewed surveillance video from Stadium Station, which appeared to corroborate Lusawovana Nunu’s story.
“The video even proves it: I tapped it the first time, I tapped it the second time, but all of that for them didn’t mean nothing,” said Lusawovana Nunu. “Nobody wanted to take responsibility.”
Lusawovana Nunu, who now lives in Calgary, is set to appear in court on the charge on May 19. He estimates flying back to B.C. for the hearing will cost him upwards of $700, including a missed day of work.
“If I was in Vancouver, I wouldn’t make a big issue,” Lusawovana Nunu said. “I would wait for the court date and then go in front of the judge and explain.”
Global News reached out to Metro Vancouver Transit Police (MVTP) about Lusawovana Nunu’s case.
In a statement, MVTP said: “…based on the evidence that has been brought forward, this file has been assigned for an objective review. We will make a final decision based on that review.”
The review was launched on March 15, and MVTP spokesperson Anne Drennan confirmed that the final decision could see the ticket in question cancelled before the pending court date.
Lusawovana Nunu is hopeful that happens before he’s forced to fly back to B.C.
“I want this ticket to be cancelled,” he said. “That’s all I want.”
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