To the Editor,
Many of us are aware of the video posted on Facebook that appears to show a Lower Mainland plainclothes police officer punching a cyclist named Andi Akhavan.
The Professional Standards Section of the Vancouver Police Department is looking into the arrest.
Originally known as Internal Affairs, the PSS website states its name was adopted in early 2006 to more accurately reflect the expanded role of the section.
A similar, yet more severe incident took place in Chemainus, when RCMP Const. David Pompeo, one of two plainclothes officers, conducted a traffic stop on Sept. 18, 2009.
The vehicle owner, Bill Gillespie, did not immediately stop his vehicle and in the ensuing arrest, Pompeo fired his handgun, striking Gillespie in the lower neck.
Gillespie stated later he was not armed and did not threaten the officer. Pompeo was found guilty of aggravated assault on Feb. 14 and still remains on restricted duties with the Nanaimo RCMP.
How is it a convicted criminal charged with aggravated assault remains employed for the RCMP? Pompeo is appealing the verdict on eight grounds.
Gillespie filed a complaint with the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP. The B.C. Civil Liberties Association also filed complaint on Gillespie’s behalf. This association is dedicated to the advocation of Canadians civil liberties and human rights.
The BCCLA publishes and distributes free copies of an arrest handbook to universities and other organizations with the goal of informing civilians on “the range of conduct citizens can expect from police in the lawful exercise of their duties.”.
Why does the average, uninformed Canadian require a handbook for dealing with the very organization established to protect them?
In the case of Akhavan, we have an individual whose non-confrontational actions appear to be misinterpreted as resisting arrest, ultimately resulting in being violently assaulted by a police officer.
Similarly, in the case of Pompeo, an individual was almost killed by an officer apparently for not immediately stopping his vehicle.
Some would argue these officers’ actions were justified given that many suspects violently resist arrest and maintaining an officer’s safety is priority.
Canadians have taken for granted that democracy in this country means that all participate in the life of the nation and all receive consideration and a degree of care, and all do so through the rule of law.
We cannot allow the police to be above the law and with the ever growing presence of mobile cameras, Canadians have the opportunity to do something they haven’t in the past – police the police.
Remember, officers are like employees of the public – and like any job – an employer must keep watch over that employee to correct mistakes.