Police in Surrey, B.C. are investigating what appears to be the swarming of an officer in his vehicle by a group of youth in a parking lot earlier this month.
The confrontation took place after 8 p.m. on Sept. 11 outside the Party City at the Strawberry Hill Shopping Mall, where the group was blasting music, according to RCMP.
Const. Sarbjit Sangha said a traffic officer was responding to a complaint about a loud vehicle circling the neighbourhood for hours, and pulled it over in the mall parking lot. Upon inspection of that vehicle, he found it had modifications to make it louder.
The officer wrote the driver a ticket and a Notice and Order that would allow the driver to skip the fine if the vehicle was brought into compliance within 30 days, she said.
“The driver became very belligerent with our officer and was uncooperative — he did not want to get the paperwork that was being issued to him,” Sangha said on Monday.
That’s when others in the group began filming the interaction and directing “bad language” at the officer, Sangha said. Some among the group knew the officer, she added, having received tickets from him earlier that month for separate incidents.
In the videos shared on TikTok, a person can be asking for the officer’s badge number. He refuses to provide it and gets in his vehicle.
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A person can be heard shouting, “Bully! Bully! Bully!” at the officer and telling him to “Get the f— out of here!” A caption calls the officer a “Bully racist cop.”
In another one of the videos, someone can be seen depositing what appears to be paper on the vehicle windshield. In a different TikTok post, the group can be seen surrounding the vehicle as it slowly reverses with its lights and sirens activated.
According to Sangha, the officer retreated as he “was not feeling safe at the moment,” and reversed because the group was blocking his path forward.
Charges of obstruction of justice and intimidation of the justice system are being considered, she said, adding that many in the group are “people we have dealt with.”
“Last year, summer, we were dealing with the same type of problem — loud music, revving up the engine and doing burnouts in the vehicles … Everyone has a right to go and enjoy themselves with their families and not be afraid to go into the area because certain individuals are making it difficult for everybody else.”
Veteran police officer Kal Dosanjh called the videos “tremendously disturbing.”
“The primary fear here is that the absence of any kind of significant legal repercussions or consequences would embolden this kind of criminal element and give these kids the idea it’s okay to get away with something like that,” he said Monday.
“It’s my understanding that the majority of individuals involved in the incident are international students and the ones that contacted me expressed some significant concerns with respect to the conduct of the officer.”
Dosanjh, who is also the CEO and founder of the KidsPlay Foundation, said there are proper channels for lodging a complaint about officer conduct that the group should have taken instead. The KidsPlay Foundation is a non-profit that helps keep youth away from gangs, drugs and violence, and according to Dosanjh, has worked with many international students.
“You don’t want to engage in that type of behaviour at that moment because once again, you’re coming to a new country, there’s rules and laws that govern us. You need to abide by those eventually if you want to get your citizenship.”
Sangha confirmed Surrey RCMP have increased patrols in the neighbourhood.