Guilty plea expected from man accused of assaulting Asian senior at Vancouver 7-Eleven

Click to play video: 'VPD identify hate crime suspect wanted in connect with assault on 92-year-old man' VPD identify hate crime suspect wanted in connect with assault on 92-year-old man
Vancouver police say they've received multiple tips and have now identified the man seen on surveillance video pushing a 92-year-old man who has dementia. Police have characterized the incident as a hate crime – Apr 23, 2020

A guilty plea is expected when the suspect in an alleged hate-crime attack on an elderly Asian man appears in court next month.

Jamie Allen Bezanson, 51, is accused of one count of assault in connection with the March 13, 2020 incident in East Vancouver.

The BC Prosecution Service said it anticipates a guilty plea will be entered at Bezanson’s next court appearance on March 21, and the case will proceed to sentencing.

Read more: Suspect charged in alleged hate-crime assault of 92-year-old Asian man in Vancouver

Surveillance cameras from the 7-Eleven on East 1st Avenue at Nanaimo Street captured the suspected hate crime.

Police said the 92-year-old victim, who suffers from severe dementia, had wandered into the convenience store. Staff were trying to assist the senior when a man began yelling racist remarks at him, including comments about COVID-19.

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Click to play video: 'Hidden Hate: The rise of anti-Asian racism in B.C.' Hidden Hate: The rise of anti-Asian racism in B.C.
Hidden Hate: The rise of anti-Asian racism in B.C – Apr 24, 2021

The suspect is then seen grabbing the elderly man’s arm and leading him outside, where he allegedly shoved the victim — causing him to fall and hit his head on the pavement.

The suspect is seen propping the senior up to a sitting position before going back inside the convenience store. Police say he fled before officers arrived.

Read more: B.C. inquiry into hate during COVID-19 pandemic wants public to share their experiences

A suspect in the alleged racially motivated attack was identified hours after the surveillance video was released on April 22, 2020. In July of that year, Crown counsel approved an assault charge against Bezanson.

A February 2021 year-end report presented to the Vancouver Police Board reported a 717 per cent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in the city — from 12 cases in 2019 to 98 cases in 2020.

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The spike in hate crimes across B.C. during the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the BC Human Rights Commissioner to launch an online portal for people to report their own experiences with hate.

Court records indicate a sentencing hearing for Bezanson is scheduled to begin on March 21.

– with files from Amy Judd

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