POLITICS
02/13/2012 02:39 EST | Updated 04/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Vancouver police recommend more riot charges, ask for info about officer assault

VANCOUVER - The Vancouver police have identified 25 additional suspects in their investigation into last year's Stanley Cup riot, while defending the pace of an investigation that has yet to result in a sentence against a single rioter.

The force also used an announcement Monday to appeal for information about the assault of an officer who was hit in the head with a brick during the June 15 melee last year, which followed the Vancouver Canucks' loss to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup final.

Insp. Les Yeo said investigators sent another batch of files to the Crown, asking that 70 charges be approved against 25 people. That brings the total number of suspects to 125.

However, the Crown has so far only approved charges against 47 people who together are accused of 129 offences including participating in a riot, assault and break-and-enter.

Vancouver police have faced criticism over the speed of the investigation almost since the riot, but the force has repeatedly insisted it takes time to prepare strong cases that will result in convictions, particularly because of the massive amount of photo and video evidence.

Yeo repeated that point.

"I'm ecstatic about the progress of the investigation," told a news conference.

"It's going as well as can be expected. With the amount of video we had, we made a promise that we were going to roll these charges out quickly after we processed the video, and we're doing exactly that."

So far, only one person has pleaded guilty to participating in the riot. Ryan Dickinson, 20, is scheduled to appear for a sentencing hearing on Tuesday.

Another accused rioter, former beauty queen Sophie Laboissonniere, 20, has indicated through her lawyer that she, too, intends to plead guilty.

In the weeks that followed the riot, the police faced criticism that no one had been charged, prompting uncomfortable comparisons to riots that occurred last summer in London, which saw swift convictions and harsh sentences against those responsible in the days and weeks that followed.

Vancouver police have said the situations in Vancouver and London are completely different, but the criticism has continued unabated.

Another complication has been the B.C. premier's pledge to ask the courts to televise the cases of accused rioters.

The first such application is before the courts in Dickinson's case, and a judge was expected to issue a ruling Monday afternoon about whether cameras will be allowed inside the court for Dickinson's sentencing hearing.

Last week, Judge Malcolm MacLean expressed concerns about the technology, the costs, the safety of the court and the chilling effect the cameras may have on witnesses.

Premier Christy Clark defended her decision to seek to have the proceedings televised during a radio appearance on Monday.

"Whatever happens with that, my view has always been we need to have more openness in our courtrooms," Clark said on radio station CKNW.

"People need to understand how justice works."

Meanwhile, police released a short riot video Monday that shows a brick fly from the crowd and hit an officer in the head.

Const. Mike Laurin suffered 14 stitches and a concussion, which kept him off the job for three months.

"I know there's somebody out there that can tell us who did this," said Insp. Les Yeo.

"They may have been standing next to the person who threw it. They may know the person that threw it."