A criminal investigation is underway after a Vancouver police officer was caught on camera shoving a man to the ground in September 2020.
The troubling video, filmed by Downtown Eastside volunteer peer worker Tyler Nielsen, was posted to social media in August.
“We’re told the police owe us a duty of care when they’re interacting with members of the public,” said Meenakshi Mannoe, criminalization and policing campaigner at the Pivot Legal Society.
“To see a violent shoving incident like the one that’s been shown and is being investigated really raises a lot of concerns.”
In the video, Vancouver police officers are seen questioning a woman when a man approaches police and an officer pushes him to the ground. Another officer then approaches the person shooting the video and requests that he hand over the phone as evidence.
The incident prompted a review in which the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner deemed allegations of improper use of force were “unsubstantiated.”
After the video was shared on social media, however, the commissioner’s office determined it was in the public interest to launch a more fulsome probe.
That office now confirms that “the Director of Police Services has initiated a section 44 Special Investigation under the Police Act and that the RCMP has been directed to complete this investigation.”
The officer who shoved the man remains on active duty at the Vancouver Police Department.
That raises eyebrows at the Pivot Legal Society, which partners with communities affected by poverty and social exclusion to help develop solutions to human rights issues.
“To not know where this officer is, to not know whether they are still in a community patrolling it, whether they still have contact with vulnerable members of the community is very concerning,” said Mannoe.
The VPD declined to comment on this story as the criminal investigation is ongoing.
Mannoe said the conduct of the other officers seen in the video should also be investigated, as they did not report on the video, despite knowing it was filmed.