The Vancouver Police Department says its officers are increasingly finding themselves targeted while on the beat.
The latest example, police said, came on Friday night when officers tried to break up a brawl in English Bay and were surrounded, heckled and attacked.
Video captured two officers struggled to hold a young Black man in handcuffs.
“Our officers approached him, spoke to him asked him to leave the area,” VPD Sgt. Steve Addison said. “He became very belligerent, began causing a disturbance.”
An upset crowd armed with phone cameras forms around them.
“What are you searching? Tell me what I’m getting arrested for, f—-,” a man can be heard saying.
Police say bystanders pointed the man out as the aggressor in the fight. Other witnesses claim it was a case of racial profiling.
Criminal lawyer Ravi Hira said, right or wrong, one should never resist an arrest.
“If the arrest is wrongful, you can challenge it,” Hira said. “Don’t challenge it on the street.”
Of concern to Hira was the sight of a young man holding a camera. He had every right to record what he saw, Hira said, but he could be seen doing much more.
“His actions were obstructive,” he said. “You’re entitled to take videos but you’re not entitled to be in the space of a police officer trying to do his or her job.”
Three officers were injured in the incident at English Bay. Police say over the past four weeks there have been 21 assaults against officers, several of which resulted in injury.
Over the past five years, Vancouver police say they’ve recorded a 47-per-cent increase in the number of assaults on officers.
“Members are being spat at, they’re being punched, they’re being kicked, we’ve had police officers rammed by suspect vehicles as they’ve tried to get away and we’ve had a number of officers who have been hurt while in the line of duty just while they’re trying to do their job,” Addison said.
Growing distrust in the police may be fuelled by questionable actions of the department such as the detainment of an Indigenous man and his granddaughter suspected of fraud when they tried to open a bank account or the handcuffing of Selwyn Romily, the first Black B.C. supreme court judge, who was mistakenly handcuffed while walking on the Seawall.
“When they misbehave they should be disciplined and there are now robust mechanisms to make police accountable,” Hira said.
Options include going to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner or filing a civil lawsuit.
Vancouver police say a 20-year-old North Vancouver man has been released while evidence is being gathered for Crown consideration.
Charges against other individuals are still being investigated.