No sympathy for Victoria cop
caught on video kicking suspects

Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun, March 24, 2010


What was that Victoria police officer thinking?

The man in the fluorescent yellow jacket captured on video treating two men like soccer balls as they were being subdued — what was he thinking?

Less than a minute in length, 56 seconds precisely, the video posted on YouTube depicts him as kindly as the cameras portrayed the American cops who beat Rodney King and the Mounties who Tasered the late Robert Dziekanski.

Another police officer captured for posterity acting like a thug.

“Ow, ow, ow,” one of the victims can be heard yelling as he clutches at his ribs.

Can I get a chorus of, “When will they ever learn, when will they e-v-e-r learn”?

The officer now is riding a desk and kicking his garbage can.

The gotcha footage was taken early Sunday morning near the Victoria Social Club, on Johnson Street downtown.

Eight people were reportedly fighting, a swarm supposedly putting the boots to a man on the ground when three police officers rolled up, unleashing a blast of pepper spray.

The kick-ass video was taken by one of the numerous witnesses milling around watching the unfolding law-enforcement drama on Store Street, between Pandora Avenue and Johnson: Call it Law and Order, Victoria-by-the-sea style.

If you haven’t watched the now-viral clip (60,000-plus and counting), thankfully it’s more stupid than awful because no one was seriously hurt.

One man is being wrestled to the ground by a handful of cops when the canary-jacketed officer casually walks over and kicks him twice.


The officer walks over to another man and orders him to lie down on the ground.

As a second officer attempts to handcuff the man, who is trying to follow commands, the officer in the yellow jacket boots him and knees him in the back to spur compliance.

Sgt. Grant Hamilton, a spokesman for the Island department, initially explained that a group of young men aged between 19 and 27 were involved in the fight.

“Our officers tried to intervene,” he said. “They used [pepper] spray to disperse the crowd. What you see [in the video] is three officers trying to take eight people in custody.”

It looks like more cops than that to me. But count them yourself.

Six men were eventually corralled, but they were quickly released because the victim of the initial swarming, who was treated and released from hospital, refused to cooperate.

No one involved in fact has filed a complaint, though Hamilton said some people viewing the video had registered their horror.

Later, former Vancouver chief-now-Victoria chief Jamie Graham held his own media conference and said his old force is now in charge of conducting an independent investigation into whether the use of force by the officer was warranted and whether criminal charges should be laid in the incident.

“No doubt the images are distressing and the reaction on an emotional level is one of shock,” he said.

In Graham’s view, the incident was terrible proof of the worsening late-night disorder problem in the capital, an atmosphere he described of “drunkenness, debauchery and silliness.”

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner is monitoring the case.

How reassuring.

I wouldn’t hold my breath.

This is no different than a handful of similar recent reports involving Vancouver police: Jacked-up cops, pumped on adrenalin, overreacting.

The results — citizens suffering smashed teeth, bruised ribs, trauma, lost time and work. . . .

For the officers involved? Criminal charges are exceedingly rare and professional discipline is usually slight.

The officer here was ramped up from the violence.

His mean-spirited behaviour can be explained; it cannot be condoned.

Better training would undoubtedly help reduce these all-too-frequent incidents of all-too-casual brutality, but that’s expensive.

What was he thinking? He wasn’t. He lashed out at two men who no longer posed a threat.

He was out of control, and he was armed.

Had there not been a crowd watching, what might have occurred?

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