A trip to a Blue Jays game on Good Friday was something just what Jennifer Bigger needed after the year she’s had.
Losing a close friend to suicide just weeks ago, along with other close friends and family members due to disease and age, it was time for her friends to take out her to the ball game.
Unfortunately that only lasted two innings before Bigger said she was roughed up by Toronto Police.
“My friends thought it would be good for me to get out of bed, and out of the house and go to a Jays game,” said Bigger in her first media interview.
Speaking from her home in Bowmanville, 32-year-old Bigger said she’s more of a soccer fan, but was very much looking forward to the community spirit of the game, trying to get “the wave” going and just being amoungst people at the Toronto Blue Jays versus the New York Yankees game.
Admitting she loves talking to people, getting out with friends at the Rogers Centre at the Jays game was just what she needed.
But the good times were short lived.
The four friends arrived just after the first inning started and were seated in section 204R seats three to six.
“We were having a really great time. It was a great day.”
Meeting a “lovely couple” from Gatineau, Quebec, Bigger said getting to know them was fun.
Given her outgoing personality, she also met two men while waiting in line who listened to her story and the loss of her friend. Bigger was so grateful she bought them a drink each and they helped carry the drinks for the women to their seats.
Calling them true gentlemen, Bigger said the evening was going great.
“We cheered and said, “Go Jays Go!”
During the course of her time at the Rogers Centre she had half a cider drink, and said she had two previous drinks at a restaurant before the game.
At one point she tried to get “the wave” going by cheering fans on, then approximately 45-minutes later she had bruises on her arm from a Toronto Police officer she claims.
Bigger said it began when she tried talking to a usher in the aisle, just asking general questions to make conversation, but she said there was a language barrier, and it appeared the usher was ignoring her so she went back to the game.
Another usher walked down shortly after and her friends joked that Bigger was in trouble.
Shortly after that, a woman named Candice from Fan Services approached Bigger and asked to speak with her at the top of the stairs.
“I was like, absolutely. I thought I’d won a prize.”
“When I got up to the top of the stairs there was a Toronto Police officer, a security guard and Candice.”
They questioned Bigger about her sobriety and she stated she had half a cider during the game and two drinks previous to the game.
“All these fans came to defend me and they (police and security) shooed them away,” and continued to question her.
“At this point I became very embarrassed and shared the story about my friend and how he took his life three weeks ago and it was my first outing.”
“Candice was very cold and insincere.”
Bigger explained she was having a great evening up until that point, but because of the embarrassment of the officer, security guard and woman from Fan Services questioning her and drawing attention it was too much.
“Nobody asked me to leave, I just wanted to leave.”
“I was having a very good time with my friends. I might have been loud trying to get the wave going, but I think everyone there can attest it was all fun.”
Bigger’s friend, Carlie Graham came up from her seat and asked what was going on. It was obvious Bigger was emotional with security and police around her.
“I got to the top of the stairs and I can obviously see that Jennifer has been crying and is hysterical, “said Graham in a statement.
“I asked, what the hell happened and she said she’s leaving.”
Bigger said she felt embarrassed, humiliated was mortified.
The entire group of women were confused why the incident was taking place.
When security went down to talk to the other women, they instead spoke to the couple from Gatineau thinking they were with them.
“Nobody gave us an explanation.”
While her friends were getting Bigger’s items, she freely admits telling anyone within earshot that “Candice didn’t have a heart.”
“I used my words, which is what we are supposed to teach our children, to resolve scenarios.”
“To my knowledge because I told people that Candice did not have a heart in her chest, because that’s how I felt at that moment when I was distraught, an officer removed me from the facility.”
While at the top of the stairs, Bigger said the officer “pulled me, up and out.”
“He grabbed and he squeezed it (arm) and I said, “get your hands off of me, I’m not doing anything wrong.”
“I begged and cried for my friend to get her phone out and record me.”
Weighing 125 pounds, Bigger clearly has bruises on her right arm. She was also not charged with an offence.
Graham said in her statement that, “as we’re exiting he (the officer) grabs Jennifer’s arm with quite some force and I begin to panic thinking she’s being arrested.”
“Why else would he use such force on someone whose done nothing wrong,” said Graham.
As bad as the incident was, Bigger is extremely grateful for the staff at Jack Astor’s restaurant in Toronto.
Extremely upset the women went to the restaurant to compose themselves.
“They left the most beautiful message on the back of a receipt that I still choke up about when I read it.”
The message said, “the sun isn’t shining now, but that doesn’t mean it never will” along with a heart symbol.
“I’m a big believer that there is more good in the world then bad,” said Bigger. “And at the end of a terrible day, this beautiful waitress wrote on the back of my receipt.”
Looking back, she is dumbfounded at what took place at the Rogers Centre.
Bigger has filed an official complaint with the OIRPD (Office of Independent Police Review Director).
“It happened so fast. I want to see the video (that the Rogers Centre should have) of what happened to me.”
Today’s Northumberland and Beyond reached out to Toronto Police.
Toronto Police spokesperson Kevin Masterman, stated in a e-mail, “we can’t give you any comment at this point as it would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing OIPRD investigation.”
Even as her three-year-old son asks her why she has been crying she won’t tell him it was done by a police officer.
“Because they are supposed to protect us.”
To add insult to injury, Bigger, her husband and son drove down to the police headquarters the next day to try and resolve the issue.
“(An officer) handed me a pamphlet (directing her to OIPRD). I asked him to take my statement. I begged him to take photos.”
“I wanted something done. If my husband did this to me, you would have arrested and charged him.”
Several officers of different ranking stood behind the tinted glass “looking at me like I was a circus animal.”
After 45-minutes he came back out and gave her another pamphlet.
Graham said she’s been to numerous sporting events in her life, “and I have never experienced such hate and lack of professionalism as I have that night.”
Bigger said, everyone has problems in life, and deals with death, but the way the Rogers staff and especially Toronto Police dealt with this situation was totally wrong and could have easily been avoided.
“If anyone else did this to me I would want them charged. Right now I want to see the video, see how this escalated so quickly and why I have these bruises.”
“I want to ask two questions to the Chief of Police: did this man (officer) do his job properly and was there a point I was out of line and deserved this?”