Police Chief Jim Chu confirmed Friday that an out-of-court settlement has been reached with a man his officers seriously injured in January 2010 in a case of so-called mistaken identity.
Chu wouldn’t disclose details of the settlement that involves the Vancouver Police Department, the City of Vancouver and Yao Wei Wu, who suffered a broken orbital bone during the arrest outside his East Side house.
“Part of the agreement was to not talk about it,” Chu told reporters Friday. “I will say that I have said in the past, Mr. Wu was an innocent man and what happened to him was very unfortunate. But I’ve also said the police officers were responding in good faith to a call about a domestic assault in progress and they were given that address. So very unfortunate circumstances.”
The Courier was unable to contact Wu Friday and messages left for his lawyer Cameron Ward were not returned before deadline.
Wu, a floor installer, suffered serious injuries on the night of Jan. 21, 2010 before police realized he was not the culprit in a domestic assault call to Wu's house on Lanark Street.
The constables responded to the correct address but were not aware the call, which came from a cellphone, originated from the Wu’s basement suite, where a man was later arrested in connection with the assault.
The chief wouldn’t comment further on the Wu case but presented a scenario where police could potentially receive a call from a house tonight where a husband is beating his wife.
“We knock on the door, we say there’s an assault in progress here and the person answers the door and says you can’t come in,” Chu said. “Then what should we do? What do you think?”
The Delta Police was tasked with investigating the incident and cleared constables Brian London and Nicholas Florkow of any wrongdoing, despite the officers admitting to hitting Wu five times in the back with “closed-handed tactical strikes.” Wu’s face made contact with concrete when he was taken to the ground, the investigation report said.
Wu issued a statement after the Delta police’s investigation concluded, saying he was disappointed and angry with the investigators’ findings.
“This is absolutely a distortion of the facts,” said Wu, whose lawsuit against the VPD stated the officers grabbed him, dragged him outside and repeatedly beat him.
The constables, in a statement of defence filed in B.C. Supreme Court, denied “each and every allegation” set out in the lawsuit.
The constables were to face a public hearing ordered by Police Complaint Commissioner Stan Lowe who wasn't satisfied with the Delta police’s findings.
Lowe alleged in a written statement in December 2010 that London and Florkow committed an abuse of their authority in the performance of their duties and “intentionally or recklessly used unnecessary force.”
In January of this year, B.C. Supreme Court Justice D. Allan Betton quashed the public hearing scheduled for May for the two constables.
Betton pointed out his decision was not to determine the merits of the case but whether the complaint commissioner had the right to order a public hearing.
The judge concluded the commissioner had “many other provisions” in the Police Act he could have used to review the investigation into the incident, including appointing a retired judge. The commissioner’s office launched an appeal which will be heard Jan. 30, 2013.
Meanwhile, one of the constables is working in a patrol division and the other in an investigative unit, the chief said Friday.
The Courier published a story in December 2010 that revealed the City of Vancouver paid out almost $9 million in the past decade to people who sued the city for a variety of incidents, including injuries suffered during arrests by police.
The city declined to break down the worth of each claim or provide detailed descriptions of the incidents, saying such details “could reasonably be expected to harm the city’s financial interest.”