Cop case kicked to public hearing

A Vancouver police constable will face a public hearing over an allegation made in August 2012 that he kicked a robbery suspect in the chest while the man was in handcuffs.

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner ordered the hearing into Const. Jesse Tiwana’s actions after the CBC informed the Vancouver Police Department of a video clip it had of the alleged offence against Ryan Felton.

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Police Complaint Commissioner Stan Lowe said in a report released May 14 that it was determined Tiwana was the officer captured on the video near 15th and Granville.

Lowe’s report said a VPD investigator’s assessment of the evidence and analysis of the facts led her to believe that Tiwana’s use of force “was not justified and not necessary.”

“She was of the opinion that the available evidence appeared to support the allegation of abuse of authority,” Lowe wrote.

However, Supt. Dean Robinson conducted a subsequent internal disciplinary hearing and concluded the allegation against Tiwana “had not been proven.”

Lowe’s report didn’t specify how Robinson reached his conclusion, except to say he applied a “different test” in determining whether Tiwana was guilty of misconduct.

Lowe noted the only person to testify in the hearing was Tiwana and excluded Felton and other witnesses to the incident.

“In my view, the accountability of the process and the ability for the truth in this proceeding have been hampered,” Lowe wrote.

The case dates back to Aug. 15, 2012 when officers responded to a call of a robbery in progress. It is alleged the suspect, later identified as Ryan Felton, robbed a store and fled.

While he attempted to flee, Felton tried to hijack a vehicle and enter a residence in the 1500 block of West 15th Avenue, Lowe said. Officers arrived in the neighbourhood and arrested Felton.

The next day, the CBC provided the VPD with a seven-second video clip of the incident. Lowe ordered an investigation Aug. 17, 2012 but a final report wasn’t completed until Aug. 27, 2013. Robinson didn’t release his findings until March 18 of this year.

No date has been set for a hearing but retired provincial court judge Carol Baird Ellan is expected to preside over the proceedings. Tiwana remains on active duty.

The announcement of a hearing comes two months after another Vancouver police officer was granted a hearing over allegations of misconduct related to a car chase in 2011 that ended in a collision.

Const. Christopher Charters requested the hearing Feb. 13 after a VPD internal disciplinary proceeding recommended he be fired from the force.

The recommendation related to a finding of one count of deceit under the Police Act which alleged Charters made false or misleading written statements not consistent with previous oral statements or physical evidence related to the pursuit and collision.

The incident dates back to Dec. 26, 2011 when police observed a 1997 Jeep Cherokee at 2:12 a.m. travelling at a high rate of speed near Commercial Drive and East Eighth Avenue.

The Jeep’s speed and direction of travel was broadcast over the police radio. Two minutes after the broadcast, acting-sergeant Leslie Weeks said there would be no pursuit of the vehicle.

Five minutes later, Charters broadcast over the police radio that his vehicle had been rammed by the suspect’s Jeep at Rupert Street and Kingsway.

A subsequent VPD investigation revealed the collision could not have occurred as reported by Charters. The evidence showed Charters’ vehicle hit the Jeep on the rear driver’s side, Lowe said in his report on the incident.

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