Vann Hubbard inquest
misses the point:
The problem is police recruiting

VPD Const. Estilize Wicks couldn’t handle the day shift at a 7/11.
But Vancouver police gave her a gun and a licence to kill

April 28, 2012

Vancouver police Constable Estilize Wicks killed Michael Vann Hubbard

Vancouver police Constable Estilize Wicks:
She panicked far too quickly and killed
a man who posed only a minor threat.


Michael Vann Hubbard presented an absolutely terrifying sight to Vancouver police constables Celia Tisdall and Estilize Wicks. But only because they’re not fit to be police officers.

So Vann Hubbard — skinny, frail, pushing 60, mentally ill, armed with a minuscule blade and very unsteady on his feet — had to be shot.

Wicks killed the mentally ill American in March 2009 because of his strange, threatening behaviour when investigated for a theft which he didn’t do. After a nine-month delay, a cop-on-cop investigation predictably exonerated Wicks. On announcing the December 2009 decision, VPD chief Jim Chu and his 17-member PR team successfully diverted the media’s attention with a heavy-handed and false attack on critics. The two cops’ names were kept secret until this month’s coroner’s inquest, held more than three years after Vann Hubbard’s death. Now it transpires that Wicks’ excuse for killing him, as reported in news accounts of the inquest, was simply that she was scared, scared, scared.


Click on the image to see surveillance video.

At about 1:49 in the top frame of this video, Wicks and Tisdall are seen suddenly moving back, one of them jumping back, in fear. They immediately draw their guns. Vann Hubbard slowly moves towards them, for the most part walking very unsteadily with his legs spread far apart in an extremely awkward gait, jerking forward two, three or four clumsy steps at a time before coming to a stop. The cops continue to back away in fear from this clumsy wreck. When Vann Hubbard eventually started walking in what appears to be a normal manner, Wicks could only respond by shooting him.

Another immense Vancouver police screw-up contributed to Vann Hubbard’s death. VPD cop cars blocked off the street, making it impossible for an ambulance to get closer than one block from the dying man. It was an astonishingly stupid thing to do. But lots of cops like to show their self-importance by parking anywhere they please. To hell with human life.

The coroner’s jury recommended police get training in first aid and crisis intervention. Sure, that might be a good idea. But this is another example in which a coroner’s jury was steered away from the real issue — which in this case is police recruiting.

As criminologist John Martin writes, “Many police forces are reluctantly hiring people who, 10 years ago, would have been screened out in the early stages of the application process.”

Wicks is a prime example.

She wanted to be a cop. It’s a very high-paying and safe job. It’s almost impossible to fire a cop and other lines of work are far more dangerous. Among the perks are early retirement and numerous cushy double-dipping sinecures. It’s also perceived by some to be a high-status job. Even those cops who don’t act tough often pretend they have some special ability to handle situations that average people can’t handle. But in a lot of cases, that’s the opposite of the truth. Cops like Wicks have an abnormally poor ability to handle difficult situations.

Wicks couldn’t handle a day shift in a convenience store.

Yet she wanted to be a cop. So Vancouver police hired her, gave her a gun and a licence to kill. Now a man is dead, for no other reason than the ambition of a thoroughly inadequate character.

The problem is recruiting. People like Wicks (and Tisdall too) should never be hired as police officers. They lack normal levels of judgment and fortitude. In Wicks’ case, she killed someone to make up for it.


Some additional notes:

I’ve held low-paying jobs working alone on the night shift. Once a guy pulled a knife on me, another time three guys robbed me at gunpoint. In another incident outside of work, a guy pulled a knife on me. All of those guys were younger and much fitter than Vann Hubbard and in all of those cases I was alone. Of course I was scared. But I have zero respect for chickenshit cops like Vancouver police constable Estilize Wicks. She panicked far too quickly and killed a man who posed only a minor threat.

Jeff Hughes’ death provides another example of inadequate cops, this time a group of them firing wildly at a small, frail man as he slowly walked away from them. Then they stood back and watched him bleed to death.

Wicks and Tisdall claimed they had no weapons other than their guns. That in itself is inexcusable. They obviously can’t handle themselves and are very easily frightened. That’s all the more reason they should have been carrying non-lethal weapons in addition to their guns. It’s possible that they did but claimed otherwise. They might have been so terrified of this frail old man that they deliberately chose to draw lethal weapons, with lethal results.

Vann Hubbard’s family was represented by Pivot Legal Society lawyer Douglas King, who went along with the way the coroner’s inquest was steered. Maybe King isn’t bright enough to see through the con job. But this could be a case in which Pivot, like the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, backs away from the most troubling issues.

Read more about Pivot Legal Society lawyer Doug King
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