Collin Dillon categorically denies that he’s a gaybasher and refutes assault charges pressed against him by Jon Chaisson after an altercation on a subway platform in the early morning of Friday, April 22 that left both with bruises.
Chaisson told Xtra that Dillon head-butted him on the train after harassing him and calling him “faggot” on the subway platform.
Dillon declined to give the cause of the altercation, worried that any details may taint his trial. But he says he and his girlfriend entered the station at the same time as Chaisson and that there was no interaction until all three were on the subway. Dillon says the whole story is “a 45-second confrontation” that happened on the ride between King and Queen subway stations.
When informed that Chaisson was pressing for the incident to be investigated as a hate crime, Dillon was overcome with emotion.
While he declined to say who hit whom first or what was the cause of the altercation, he says that allegations that he’s homophobic or that this was a hate crime are completely false. He denies calling Chaisson “faggot” before or after the incident.
“That’s so far from the truth. That makes no sense. How could anyone identify someone’s sex[ual orientation]?” Dillon says, holding back tears. “One of my best friends is gay. My cousin is gay. I’ve been to Pride. I’m not at all homophobic.”
Dillon says the issue of Chaisson’s sexual orientation didn’t come up until after their fight on the subway car, when Chaisson shouted at him, “I’m gay.” Dillon says he flippantly responded, “So what? You’re gay, I’m gay, we’re all gay.”
Chaisson agrees that this exchange took place.
Police are not at this point investigating the incident as a hate crime, but Chaisson is pushing for them to do so. Chaisson says police told him that the incident may not meet the criteria of a hate crime if Dillon was unaware of Chaisson’s sexual orientation at the start of the fight.
But Dillon also says that after the altercation, Chaisson repeatedly threatened Dillon and his girlfriend.
“He said he’d do his best to screw me over,” Dillon says. Dillon says Chaisson made reference to a family member that was a high-ranking judge. Chaisson refused to answer questions about Dillon’s allegations.
Contrary to Chaisson’s earlier assertion to Xtra that he hit Dillon only once in self-defence, Dillon says Chaisson hit him “five or six times,” and that it was Dillon who retreated from hitting him back in self-defence. Although Dillon declined to be photographed for this story, he has multiple bruises and cuts on his face that appear consistent with multiple punches. Six days after the incident, his left eye is still swollen, a bruise extends over his cheekbone and to his temple, and cuts are visible at his hairline.
When confronted with this information, Chaisson concedes he hit Dillon at least twice, “once inside the car and once on the platform [at Queen Station].” Chaisson had previously told Xtra that after he hit Dillon, Dillon retreated and tried to get away from him on the platform at Queen Station.
The two men are the same age and of similar height and build, which may explain why the fight was not one-sided.
Dillon also disputes Chaisson’s assertion that he and his girlfriend were drunk and arguing when Chaisson arrived in the station. Dillon says alcohol was “absolutely not” a factor in the incident. He says he was on his way home from a party but was not drunk.
“It’s total bullshit,” Chaisson says. “This guy was heavily under the influence of alcohol or drugs. My lawyers are looking into what bar he was at for over-serving him alcohol.”
Neither Chaisson nor Dillon have retained counsel.
Dillon says he was surprised when police accepted Chaisson’s story and took him into custody, but he was cooperative. His girlfriend, who spoke to Xtra but declined to give her name, agrees with Dillon’s account but says she was unable to give a statement to police at the time of the arrest because the fight left her hysterical.
She says that if she ever believed Dillon was homophobic she would dump him, and she brags that the couple have gone to club nights at Buddies and once visited Gladaman’s Den. Dillon laughs while remembering that the host at Gladaman’s mocked him for wearing flip-flops to the bar.
He says police told him that the incident should have been captured on the TTC’s security cameras, and Dillon says he’s confident that video evidence will exonerate him. Police have not returned Xtra’s calls as of press time.
The insinuation that their fight was a hate crime is most troubling for Dillon now, he says.
“It’s not at all what happened. It’s not even remotely near,” Dillon says. “As you can imagine, I’m extremely worried about my reputation. It’s very scary that someone would approach media in an attempt to paint it with that kind of brush.”
APRIL 27: Verbal abuse on a subway platform escalated to a sudden head-butt inside the subway car, which left Jon Chaisson’s face covered in blood and shards of his own teeth in his hand, he says.
The confrontation happened in the early hours of April 22 at the King Subway Station.
“I pushed the emergency alarm after he hit me the first time. And that’s when I punched him,” Chaisson says. “He was actually kind of scared of me afterward. After I touched my face and saw that there was blood all over and I had half my tooth in my hand.”
Chaisson says he was coming home from a meeting at Goodhandy’s nightclub when he entered King Station at 12:45am. He says he first spotted the man on the mezzanine level of the station, where he was having an argument with a young woman. Chaisson says the man shouted, “Hey faggot,” at him repeatedly, but Chaisson ignored it until the man followed him down onto the northbound platform.
“At that point I got fed up. I knew it was being targeted to me,” Chaisson says. “I turned around and said, ‘I am a faggot. You got a problem with that?’”
Over the pleas of his female companion, who was shouting “Leave him alone,” the attacker allegedly followed Chaisson to the far end of the empty platform, continuing to taunt him.
“He came up right in my face and said, ‘Do you wanna fight? Do you wanna go?’” Chaisson says. “I told him to piss off. I’m not in the mood to fight; stay out of my face.”
Chaisson says he was cornered at the north end of the platform until the train arrived, but then his attacker followed him into the same subway car. That’s when the confrontation got violent.
In the just over 60 seconds it takes to get from King to Queen Station, Chaisson says he was cornered at the end of the car and took a head-butt to the face. He says he fired back one punch in self-defence and triggered the emergency stop, bringing the train to a standstill when it arrived at Queen.
“This guy [the attacker] runs out on the platform. I think the girl was behind and crying ‘Leave him alone,’” Chaisson says. “I cornered him on the platform, and the TTC worker came up to him from behind and separated us.
“I tried to go at him again on the platform while the TTC workers were there. They had to hold me back at that point because I was so angry,” he says.
Chaisson estimates that police arrived about 10 minutes after he and the man got off the train. He says there was some tension, briefly, when the man claimed that he wanted to press charges against Chaisson for hitting him, but eyewitnesses to the fight told officers that it was self-defence and they quickly dropped that line of questioning.
Police confirm that Collin Dillon, 28, has been charged with assault causing bodily harm as a result of an altercation at the subway station April 22. At the time, police told Chaisson that he was taken into custody and charged with assault causing bodily harm but was released because he had no prior convictions.
Dillon and his girlfriend have since spoken to Xtra. They deny being drunk or arguing, following Chaisson through the station, or calling him “faggot,” and say Dillon took the majority of the hits in the confrontation. Dillon has a black eye and bruising and cuts on his face, which appear consistent with multiple hits. They say the whole incident was a 45-second fight on inside the subway car, and both claim to be friends of the gay community.
Chaisson later clarified to Xtra that he hit Dillon at least twice.
Chaisson wants the case investigated as a hate crime but says police have told him that it’s not being treated as hate-motivated because his attacker didn’t know he was gay when he entered the station. A call to the investigating officer, Faizal Karmali of 51st Division, was not immediately returned.
“I feel like that’s an insult,” Chaisson says. “I’ve spoken to them a few times now.”
After spending much of the weekend on pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs to keep down the swelling, and visiting a dentist to fix his smashed teeth, Chaisson says his focus is now on making sure that the community stands strong against gaybashings.
“I’m trying to get a group of gay people together to attend his trial,” he says.