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Vancouver police apologize for handcuffing retired Black B.C. judge

Click to play video: 'Vancouver police chief apologizes to handcuffed judge Selwyn Romilly' Vancouver police chief apologizes to handcuffed judge Selwyn Romilly
WATCH: Vancouver's police chief apologized to retired BC Supreme court justice Selwyn Romilly after officers wrongful handcuffed and detained the 81-year-old last Friday morning on the seawall. – May 17, 2021

The chief of the Vancouver Police Department has apologized to retired B.C. Supreme Court justice Selwyn Romilly after he was wrongfully handcuffed by police.

Police were responding Friday to reports of a man on the Vancouver Seawall who was punching and kicking people at random.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver police chief apologized to retired judge over handcuffing' Vancouver police chief apologized to retired judge over handcuffing
Vancouver police chief apologized to retired judge over handcuffing – May 17, 2021

Police believed Romilly, the first Black judge elevated to B.C.’s superior court, matched the description of the suspect and placed him in handcuffs.

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Romilly, who is 81, said police were looking for a “dark-skinned man in his 40s or 50s.”

He was freed a short time later. Police located and arrested another man who they believe is the assailant.

Read more: Vancouver police mistakenly handcuff retired B.C. Supreme Court judge

On Monday, VPD Chief Const. Adam Palmer publicly apologized to Romilly.

“I know this would have been an unsettling and even traumatic experience for anybody to go through,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver mayor apologizes to retired Black B.C. judge wrongly handcuffed by police' Vancouver mayor apologizes to retired Black B.C. judge wrongly handcuffed by police
Vancouver mayor apologizes to retired Black B.C. judge wrongly handcuffed by police – May 15, 2021

Palmer said he reached out to Romilly on Saturday to apologize. He also said the responding officers apologized right away and a VPD supervisor contacted the retired judge to apologize.

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“We make mistakes, we don’t always get it right,” Palmer said.

“I have spoken with the officer involved and that officer also apologized for the circumstances on that day. Things unfold quickly in the heat of the moment and that is what happened here.”

In a statement on Saturday, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said he was “appalled” by the incident.

Read more: Vancouver mayor apologizes to retired Black B.C. judge wrongly handcuffed by police

Romilly told Global News that he doesn’t intend to file a complaint, but said the incident has made clear that officers still need better training.

The incident, he added, highlights the position racialized people find themselves in when confronted by police: they may be in the right, but they risk escalating the situation if they protest.

Click to play video: 'Retired Black B.C. Supreme Court judge wrongly handcuffed by Vancouver police' Retired Black B.C. Supreme Court judge wrongly handcuffed by Vancouver police
Retired Black B.C. Supreme Court judge wrongly handcuffed by Vancouver police – May 15, 2021

“When it happens, you have to know what your rights are. But at the same time, don’t antagonize — if you start antagonizing, you may end up on the losing end,” he said.

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“Put your hands behind your back, you get manacled, embarrassed. But you start fighting and all that other stuff, there are all kinds of other charges. Before you know it, you’re in custody and what have you. It’s a really slippery slope.

“How do you really explain that to Black kids?”

— With files from Simon Little

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