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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Police advise charging officers in assault

January 27, 2009
IAN BAILEY, Globe and Mail

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver city police are recommending criminal charges against two of three off-duty officers from other Lower Mainland departments accused in a sidewalk attack on a newspaper deliveryman last week.

Chief Jim Chu told a crowded news conference yesterday that an investigation by six members of the Vancouver Police Department concluded the third officer, from Delta, may actually have been trying to "intervene to stop the assault" of Phil Khan, 47, a father of three, last Wednesday morning.

The version of events echoed that of one witness, a city worker who spoke earlier with The Globe and Mail, but contradicted another, a cab driver who told CTV all three men were involved in the attack.

Mr. Khan said last night he was not satisfied with the chief's announcement and disputed any assertion that one of the officers was a hero who tried to rein in his associates.

"All three should be charged because they all participated in this thing," Mr. Khan said from his home.

He is recovering from bruises to his head, abdomen and rib area. "If one officer said, 'I am going to stop the fight, don't beat him, I am going to pull him away, I would say one officer out of three saved me,' but I was getting kicks from all of them."

He said he was hard pressed to identify the officer who made the "brown people" remark because the native of the Fiji Islands, who moved to Canada in 1982, was on the ground and couldn't see because the hood of his jacket had been pulled over, blindfolding him.

"I couldn't see them. All I could hear is, 'We don't like brown people.' "

He said one person said, "If you don't behave, we can use our taser gun."

The father of three girls, aged four months to four years, said he was saved by other night-time workers, including city workers, employees of the Hyatt hotel and nearby Tim Hortons and Macdonald's who went out and tried to intervene. "People got very upset and said, 'Why are you beating this guy up because he's a newspaper delivery guy. We know him.' "

Mr. Khan said he will never be able to return to the delivery work he began doing in 1996, and loved "because I am very traumatized, very afraid."

Mr. Chu said police are urging the Crown to lay a charge of robbery against a West Vancouver officer and charges of assault and possession of stolen property against an officer from New Westminster. Mr. Khan said he was robbed of $200 and a cellphone after the officers attacked him.

Mr. Chu said yesterday's announcement was a rebuttal of suggestions from the public - some of which landed in his e-mail box - that police might not be enthusiastically pursuing the case against fellow officers.

He said he met the team on the case over the weekend.

"These things do take time, and when it's before the court process and all the information is shared, I think you will see in an open courtroom the Vancouver police were not dragging our heels on it or taking our time with this case. A lot of people watch TV and know CSI Miami solves it in one hour, and that's not the case with these kinds of crimes."

He said the complicating factor in this case, which has caused a furor in B.C., was trying to sort out the varying accounts from multiple players, including the victim, the alleged assailants - who were interviewed by police - nine witnesses, and other evidence. Mr. Chu said there was no video of the actual assault from area cameras.

The chief said there was not enough evidence for a hate-crime charge.

"We have the victim's statement that a racial statement was made, but the victim cannot say who may have said it. As a result, we cannot recommend a charge against any individual, but instead leave it as a matter for the courts to take into consideration."

Vancouver police eventually arrested the three officers.

There have been reports from witnesses that the three men smelled of alcohol. Mr. Chu said he would not discuss evidence in the case. He did not rule out police recommending additional charges. "We will be open to more information that comes."

The unnamed officer in the Delta Police Department has been on administrative duties since the incident, and force spokeswoman Constable Sharlene Brooks said yesterday the force has asked the Abbotsford Police Department to conduct an independent Police Act probe of the conduct of the officer.

In a statement, Chief Constable Kash Heed of the West Vancouver Police Department said he had made a decision on the status of the officer from his department that he would announce in due course. He said he was offering his "sincere and heartfelt" apology to Mr. Khan and his family.

The officer in New Westminster has been suspended with pay, and is under investigation by the professional standards branch of the force.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They shouldn't have to pin it on just one. Lump them together as a criminal organization and charge them all with conspiracy.

If any other non-police citizens did something like this, then the charges would be piled on until someone started testifying against the others.

And what about the taser?