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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Alleged victim says he was robbed, racially abused by Vancouver Police

January 24, 2009
Catherine Rolfsen, Vancouver Sun

A 47-year-old Surrey delivery man who was allegedly assaulted by three off-duty police officers this week said Friday his assailants made racial comments and threatened to use a Taser on him.

"They told me that we don't like brown people. And I told them I am sorry," Firoz Khan told reporters Friday afternoon in front of his Surrey home. "That was the day I was delivering, when president Obama was elected as the U.S. president."

Early Wednesday, Vancouver police arrested off-duty police officers from the Delta, New Westminster and West Vancouver forces on suspicion of assault and robbery outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Khan told Global TV reporters that as he approached the doors of the hotel, a man standing outside ordered him over to him.

"He said, 'Come here, you f---ing idiot, get the f--- out here,' Khan said. The man then asked him how he could get to Broadway and Cambie, he said. "I told him, 'Take it easy, let me make this delivery, and I'll tell you how to go.'" The man persisted, he said. "He said, 'Come here f---ing now.'"

Khan said the man grabbed his jacket, pulled him to the sidewalk, and began to attack him. About five to seven minutes later, he was joined by two others. "To my knowledge, I have been beaten, first by one person, and then later by another two," said Khan, who has worked for Dolphin Delivery for seven years. "In total they were three. They kicked me in my head, kicked my back, legs, everywhere."

Khan said he was robbed of $200 in the incident and claims he was further threatened when he asked for help.

"They told me, 'We are the police, you don't need help. If you don't behave, if you don't do anything, we have a Taser,'" Khan said. "I told them that I am half-dead anyways, after you guys beat me up so badly, so you might as well use the Taser and then kill me so that's the end of the story."

City workers, cab drivers and McDonald's employees saw him on the ground and rushed to help, he recalled. "I was arrested, I was handcuffed by the police, and then a cab driver told police: 'He is not a suspect. He is a driver, getting beaten.'"

Khan made the statement in front of his small, white stucco bungalow in the 10800-block of 142nd Street in Surrey, flanked by his young family, which includes his wife Zabida and three daughters, aged four, two, and four months. A white bandage was on his head and he walked gingerly.

Many visitors were coming and going from the home all day, but repeated media requests were initially refused. At one point, a man emerged from the home with a hastily constructed cardboard notice saying "No media and trespassing" and stuck it into a bank of snow at the driveway entrance.

Also on Friday, Delta police announced that their officer under investigation in the incident is being reassigned to administrative duties. They did not release the officer's name.

Khan said he hasn't been able to sleep and is still in pain. "I decided to come out and tell the story, because we are all human beings," he told reporters. "Police are given the job to serve the public. If you cannot help, why beat a person? I feel very traumatized. I feel afraid. I've always liked my job, and now I feel very different, very afraid."

At least one Muslim-Canadian leader vowed to meet with police over allegations that the attack included racial slurs. "It will be very unfortunate if [the racial slur] was said. We've been fighting that business for too long," said Aziz Khaki, the president of the Committee for Racial Justice and president of the B.C. Muslim-Canadian Federation. "That is pure hatred. And if that was said, especially from someone who is supposed to look after the safety of the people, from the people who look after law and order... if they are [referring] to a man's skin in a [hateful] way, then it's a serious matter."

Under the Criminal Code, a judge is permitted to impose heavier penalties if there is evidence that an offence was motivated by hatred based on such things as race, religion or sexual orientation.

Khaki sits on many police committees and his organization has led intercultural education programs with police, he said.

On Thursday, New Westminster Police announced they have suspended their officer with pay. He has been identified as 38-year-old Const. Jeffrey Klassen. He has been with the force for four years.

West Vancouver police said they are reassigning their officer to desk duties. That officer has been with the force for 18 months.

The three friends were out for the night in the downtown entertainment district, said Klassen's ex-wife Sheri Klassen. After being arrested Wednesday by Vancouver police responding to a 911 call, the officers were released. They had not been charged as of Friday.

Vancouver police Chief Const. Jim Chu is calling for people to come forward who may have witnessed the alleged assault. Chu made the unusual move of speaking publicly during an ongoing investigation for "the sake of preserving the public's respect, and belief in the integrity of that process." "This investigation is being pursued aggressively and fully," Chu said in a written statement. "We are in the process of interviewing witnesses and examining evidence, including any video that may have been recorded."

Chu said there are parallel investigations under the Police Act, and said that chiefs in the affected jurisdictions "are taking the matter very seriously as well."

Khan is expected to be off work for some time, Dave Breen of Dolphin Delivery told The Vancouver Sun Friday. "I talked to him today and to be honest with you, he doesn't sound that good, as far as mentally," Breen said. "I think he's just still shaken up by the whole thing. So I really don't expect him to be back any time soon."

Breen said the Hyatt was one of Khan's delivery stops and the confrontation with the three police officers occurred as he was making his way into the hotel.

Breen said Khan has a "spotless record" after more than a decade working for the company.

1 comment:

Excited-Delirium.com said...

I hope that Mr. Khan knows that the vast majority of Canadians hate such racists behaviour as exhibited by those drunken idiots.

It's almost an exact replay of the ugly racists drunk off-duty police officers acting out in Digby, NS. That was the incident where a mysterious reported 2nd taser was never adequately explained.

People debating the merits of tasers need to keep in mind the existence of a certain fraction of police officers like these examples that are irresponsible enough to be considered walking-talking human rights nightmares.

A police revolver is a go-nogo sort of device. Even a closet Nazi policeman can't go around shooting dark-skin citizens and expect to get away with it. But tasers carry no such inherent limits. They seem to invite abuse.

Something to think about.