A man who was beaten by Transit police in a 2011 altercation at the Rupert St. SkyTrain Station has given his account of events to a public hearing into police misconduct on Tuesday.
The incident was captured in disturbing surveillance video, which depicts Const. Edgardo Diaz Rodriguez and former Const. Michael Hughes delivering 10 baton strikes to the victim’s head, neck and back.
Diaz pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm in 2016, and was sentenced to 12 months of probation. Hughes was also charged but later had those charges stayed. He has since left the force.
Tuesday’s hearing, under the conduct of the office of the police complaints commissioner, relates to allegations of professional misconduct under the Police Act.
On Tuesday, the victim, a former UBC football player whose name is covered by a publication ban, laid out his recollection of the night in question.
The man acknowledged to the court that he did not have a SkyTrain ticket, but was at the station to pick up a friend. He said he had had a few drinks and “a few puffs of marijuana,” that night, but was not intoxicated when he was stopped by the officers.
When Rodriguez and Hughes cited him for fare evasion, he told the court that he gave them his name — but that because he didn’t have ID, the pair didn’t believe him and arrested him for obstruction of justice.
The court then heard that the situation quickly escalated to violence, with the complainant testifying that the officers grabbed him by the wrists and that Diaz tried to grab his leg and punched him in the mouth. He described then feeling a “huge whack” as officers deployed batons, hitting him in the head and back.
At that point, the complainant told the court he tried to run away, stumbling towards the nearby Superstore, where he surrendered to another pair of officers.
Video of the encounter shows the officers confronting the complainant on a stairway in the station, before a scuffle breaks out; as the complainant tries to flee the station, he is followed outside by the officers who strike him repeatedly with batons.
The hearings are set to continue on Wednesday and Thursday.