NEWS

Vancouver police pushing video public hearing ordered

11/13/2013 06:35 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:56 EST
The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner is calling for a public hearing into the case of an officer who was caught on camera pushing over a disabled woman in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Const. Taylor Robinson was caught on closed circuit camera pushing Sandy Davidsen, who has multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy, to the ground in June 2010 as she walked by him and two other officers on Hastings Street.

Vancouver Police originally considered a one-day suspension as punishment, but that was rejected by the Police Complaint Commissioner last summer as too lenient for Robinson's misconduct.

A two-day suspension was proposed as an alternative, but the OPCC ruled on Wednesday that a public hearing into the matter is necessary.

Douglas King, a lawyer with Pivot Legal Society — who is representing Davidsen — says that the police response has been insulting, and he hopes the public hearing leads to a stiffer penalty for Robinson.

"We would love to see a higher suspension in this case, starting at two weeks and looking up to a possibility of a full month suspension. It's really a precedent-setting case, everyone is watching this case," King told CBC News.

"The Vancouver Police Department is watching this case. The clear message needs to be sent to the officers on the street, this is not the interaction they can have with the public."

Robinson was charged with assault in Dec. 2010 following public outcry over the incident, but the charge was later stayed and Robinson was ordered to complete an alternative measures program.

After an investigation by the New Westminster Police Service in 2012, which concluded the video clearly demonstrated abuse of authority and neglect of duty, it was recommended that Vancouver Police take greater disciplinary action against Robinson.

Robinson said in a written apology to Davidsen that he thought she was reaching for his weapon, and that he regrets not helping her off the ground after pushing her down. 

Vancouver Police declined to comment to CBC News, saying the case is ongoing and unresolved. 

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