BRITISH COLUMBIA

Taylor Robinson: Disabled Woman Pushed By Vancouver Officer Wants Him Disciplined In Public

08/24/2012 05:08 EDT | Updated 10/24/2012 05:12 EDT
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VANCOUVER - A disabled woman who was shoved to the ground by a Vancouver police officer two years ago says she would like to see Const. Taylor Robinson disciplined at a public hearing.

Sandy Davidsen, who has cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis, says since the incident was caught on camera and viewed by tens of thousands of people, the public should get a chance to see how Robinson gets disciplined for his actions.

The 29-year-old's comments Friday come just days after the police complaint commissioner said the one-day suspension handed to Robinson is not a tough enough punishment.

In the video, Davidsen is seen trying to get past three officers — one of whom she said she knows — in the Downtown Eastside when Robinson shoves her to the ground. He and the two other officers then walk past her.

Davidsen said because of her disability, it was difficult for her to walk around the three men, so she asked if she could walk between them.

"I have a disability, cerebral palsy, and because I was walking on Hastings (Street), it felt like I was getting judged by [the way I walk]," she told reporters Friday.

"But I was not on drugs, I was just walking normally."

Sandra, Davidsen's mother, also told reporters her daughter was only trying to grab on to something to get her balance as she walked past the officers.

Robinson wrote a letter to Davidsen, explaining that he had thought she was reaching for his gun, and that he regrets not helping her back on her feet after he pushed her.

"I am not going to try to make excuses for what I did, because all attempts would fall short," he wrote.

"I made a mistake, and if it were possible to go back and do it over again, I would not have walked away from you while you were lying there. I would have been the one helping you to your feet and explaining to you then what had happened."

An external investigation by the New Westminster Police found Robinson had abused authority and neglected duty.

A one-day suspension and training on force options and the appropriate response were recommended as disciplinary action.

But Police Complaint Commissioner Stan Lowe wrote in a letter released this week that "the discipline proposed does not reflect or adequately address the seriousness of Constable Robinson's misconduct."

Davidsen's lawyer, Scott Bernstein, has requested that a retired judge, rather than another police member, recommend an appropriate punishment.

Bernstein said he hopes Davidsen's case leads to better police training on how to deal with people with disabilities and residents of the Downtown Eastside.

"The VPD comes out and talks about what a great relationship they have in the Downtown Eastside and how great they're doing," he said.

"In reality, when Sandy is in trouble again, she's not going to call the police, the police are not there to protect and serve."

Vancouver Police spokesman Const. Lindsey Houghton maintained in an email that the force has a "good relationship with the community and community groups who work and live in the DTES."

Houghton said groups like Sister Watch, Project Lockstep and Lost in Transition 1 & 2 help combat violence against women and target violent offenders in the neighbourhood.

He did not comment on Davidsen's case, as the disciplinary process for Robinson is ongoing.

Davidsen, who said she no longer feels safe around police officers, has filed a human rights complaint. She is also suing the Vancouver Police Department for $25,000.

Robinson will now face a formal disciplinary hearing in October, after which a public hearing may be ordered if the complaint commissioner's office isn't happy with the decision.