W. Van cop pleads guilty to assault

Attack on delivery man unprovoked

Jane Seyd, North Shore News, July 19, 2009

A West Vancouver police officer pleaded guilty in Vancouver provincial court Friday to the unprovoked beating of a newspaper deliveryman outside the Vancouver Hyatt in the early hours of Jan. 19.

Griffin Gillan, 25, had only been a police officer about a year on the night he attacked Firoz Khan, 47, kneeing him in the stomach, throwing him to the ground, then continuing to kick him while a fellow off-duty officer held him down, telling Khan he was under arrest.

The attack happened after Gillan went binge drinking with two other off-duty officers at several downtown bars.

Khan yelled for help during the assault and shouted for someone to call the police.

“We are the police,” one of Gillan’s fellow officers shouted back.

Crown counsel Ralph Keefer described Gillan and his fellow off-duty officers’ actions that night as “collective bullying, in the name of the police” that should carry a significant sentence. “Mr. Gillan dramatically abused his authority as a police officer,” said Keefer. “Not only did he disgrace himself. He disgraced police officers everywhere.”

Keefer said the incident raises troubling questions.

“Why did Gillan, drunk and off duty, and obviously in a bullying mood, feel empowered to arrest Khan? Why did the other two so willingly join in? Why did the other two not call regular police dispatch. . . ?” he asked.

He asked provincial court Judge Jeanne Watchuk for a sentence of four to six months in jail, followed by probation.

Keefer told Watchuk that Gillan had been out drinking heavily with Jeffrey Klassen, a New Westminster police officer, and Blair Tanino, a Delta police officer, before approaching Khan in the early hours of the morning, saying he needed directions. When Khan told him to “give me a second,” Gillan grabbed him by the jacket and kneed or kicked him in the stomach, causing Khan to fall on to the pavement. Gillan then punched or kicked him around the head and shoulders, before pulling Khan to his feet again saying, “When I call you next time, you better fuckin’ come.”

When Khan asked, “Why are you hitting me?”, Gillan told him he was under arrest. While Khan lay face down on the pavement with Gillan’s foot pressed into the back of his head, Gillan phoned the other off-duty officers, telling them he “needed backup.”

When the two other police officers arrived, witnesses described seeing Klassen on Khan’s back, punching him in the back of the head and yelling, “Stay down or I will kill you,” said Keefer. Witnesses saw Gillan kicking Khan in the ribs at the same time.

Keefer said Khan is adamant that while he was on the ground, one of the three police officers said, “We don’t like brown people.” Keefer added that Khan didn’t know who made the comment.

When a uniformed Vancouver police constable arrived on the scene, one of the three off-duty officers asked him to arrest Khan.

But witnesses told the constable that Khan was the victim of the assault rather than the perpetrator.

All three off-duty police officers were eventually arrested.

Keefer said after he was arrested, Gillan spat on a police car and kicked it.

Standing before the court in a suit and tie on Friday, Gillan read an apology to Khan, saying his actions that night “are understandably troublesome, needless and unacceptable” and telling him, “I am extremely sorry for what you and your family have gone through.”

Gillan’s lawyer David Butcher said Gillan blacked out that night and has no memory of the assault. Butcher said as a result of the beating, Gillan has been suspended without pay from the West Vancouver police department and will be subjected to a police disciplinary hearing. “His job is obviously in jeopardy,” he said.

Butcher submitted letters from friends and police supervisors who all described Gillan’s behaviour that night as completely out of character. “He’s a responsible, caring young man,” said Butcher. “He’s not the person Mr. Khan had the misfortune to have to deal with on the night of this event.”

Butcher added Gillan has stopped drinking completely since he was arrested.

The judge has reserved her sentence to a later date.

Jeffrey Klassen, the Delta police officer and police “use of force” instructor at the Justice Institute, is expected to go to trial on assault charges next spring. Tanino faces no charges.

West Vancouver Police grant Griffin Gillan a job for life
— luckily for him, because the vicious punk
probably couldn’t work anywhere else
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