BRITISH COLUMBIA

Legal groups calls for better police training after cop apparently shoved woman

10/04/2014 09:32 EDT | Updated 12/04/2014 05:59 EST
VANCOUVER - A legal advocacy group that represents a disabled woman who was apparently pushed by a Vancouver constable is calling for better training for police officers who work in marginalized communities.

The Pivot Legal Society said officers should be provided with mentors and taught to be more sensitive toward the needs of people such as Sandy Davidsen, who has cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis and lives in the Downtown Eastside.

The recommendations come before a public hearing Monday into the actions of Const. Taylor Robinson, who was caught on video apparently shoving Davidsen to the ground in June 2010 as she tried to cut between three officers on the sidewalk.

In August 2012, the Vancouver Police Department proposed a one-day suspension for Robinson but the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner disagreed and ordered a discipline hearing.

The hearing occurred 11 months later, when the department proposed a two-day suspension, which was also rejected by police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe, who ordered a public hearing in November 2013.

Robinson recently accepted responsibility for his actions, but retired B.C. Appeal Court judge Wally Oppal will still examine the case at a hearing.

Pivot lawyer Douglas King, who represents Davidsen, said a four-year delay to get the case to the point of a hearing is too long.

"The delays we have seen in this case are completely unacceptable," he said. "This case proves we still have a long way to go in building a working system of police accountability."

Sgt. Randy Fincham, spokesman for the Vancouver Police Department, said it would not be appropriate for him to comment on the recommendations before the hearing.