Crime

EXCLUSIVE: VicPD Misconduct Unit Investigating Alleged Use of Excessive Force During Pandora Arrest

Witnesses said officers dragged a man 50 metres by his arms which were handcuffed around his back

Sean Craig
July 3, 2020
Crime

EXCLUSIVE: VicPD Misconduct Unit Investigating Alleged Use of Excessive Force During Pandora Arrest

Witnesses said officers dragged a man 50 metres by his arms which were handcuffed around his back

Sean Craig
Jul 3, 2020
Two Victoria Police officers pictured dragging a suspect into custody on May 12 (Submitted)
Crime

EXCLUSIVE: VicPD Misconduct Unit Investigating Alleged Use of Excessive Force During Pandora Arrest

Witnesses said officers dragged a man 50 metres by his arms which were handcuffed around his back

Sean Craig
July 3, 2020
EXCLUSIVE: VicPD Misconduct Unit Investigating Alleged Use of Excessive Force During Pandora Arrest
Two Victoria Police officers pictured dragging a suspect into custody on May 12 (Submitted)

The Victoria Police unit responsible for investigating officer misconduct is reviewing allegations that two officers dragged a man on his stomach by his handcuffed arms during an arrest earlier this year.

Two witnesses to the incident, which took place the morning of May 12 near the corner of Pandora Avenue and Vancouver Street at about 8:50 a.m., told The Capital that the officers, who they believe used excessive force, drove away when they were asked to identify themselves.

Both witnesses are outreach workers, and asked that they not be identified for fear of jeopardizing their ability to work in the field where there are police.

One of them provided three photos they took of the incident, which show the man on his stomach, his handcuffed arms extended behind his back as the two officers pull him.

One of the submitted photos

The arrest took place after the man, who the witnesses said appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, threw a garbage can in the road.

“They're marching across the street and, halfway across the crosswalk, the [man the officers arrested] decided that he was just going to stop walking,” said the first outreach worker. “So instead of treating him like you treat a child doing the same thing, they just kept walking and they kept walking. I think it was with each handcuff in each hand, they were dragging his arms behind him, like hyperextended to the point where we were just watching in horror.”

"I think he was under the influence and was being mouthy, but that's all he was doing,” they added. “He might've been a bit squirmy but by no means was he violent at all."

In a statement, Victoria Police confirmed the arrest took place.

“On the morning of May 12th VicPD officers were on duty in the 1000-block of Pandora Avenue when they witnessed a man throw a garbage can into moving traffic on Pandora Avenue, and then a second garbage can onto a pedestrian-occupied sidewalk,” said the department. “The officers also witnessed the man screaming and walking into moving traffic. The officers went into traffic and arrested the man for mischief and placed him in handcuffs. The man was uncooperative while under escort but was ultimately moved to a police vehicle and transported to cells at VicPD. He was later released without charges. The man received no injuries during the interaction.”

VicPD said the incident has been referred to its Professional Standards Section for review, and that the provincial Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner has been notified.

“They were smirking and laughing while they were doing it and the man was very clearly upset and was screaming when they wrenched his arms around behind his back,” said the second outreach worker who witnessed the incident. “They had him in cuffs, but they took the cuffs lifting them up so that his arms were really high behind his back.”

The workers said they estimate the man was dragged about 50 metres in this position.

“I said to them, ‘Please stop doing that you're clearly hurting him’ and [my colleague] screamed ‘you’re going to dislocate his shoulders’ and they didn't say anything,” they added.

The worker said, not long after they announced they had begun taking photos, the officers picked up the man and brought him to their cruiser.

"We tried to get their badge numbers, but they were not interested in speaking to us,” added the second outreach worker. “We said 'excuse me, excuse me' and they slammed the car door in our face and they just kept going.”

The outreach workers who witnessed the event were able to write down the police cruiser number, and saw the car on the block again later in the day, at which point they approached the officers again and were able to obtain their badge numbers.

At the time the incident took place, Pandora Avenue was the subject of regular police surveillance, as barricades had been put up to contain encampments that have since been taken down. Most residents of the encampments have been moved to temporary housing, as a result of joint municipal-provincial efforts to shelter the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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sean@capnews.ca