Investigation ordered into conduct of Vancouver police officer at pipeline protest

News video shows 74-year-old woman being shoved to ground outside Opus Hotel in Yaletown

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner announced Thursday it has ordered an investigation into the conduct of at least one Vancouver police officer involved in an incident where a 74-year-old woman was pushed to the ground during an anti-Trans Mountain pipeline protest.

A video of the incident being investigated was captured by CTV News during a protest May 22 outside the Opus Hotel at 322 Davie St. in Yaletown. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was inside at the time, delivering remarks as part of a federal Liberal Party fundraiser.

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The video shows the woman approaching a male Vancouver police officer in uniform and another man dressed in a suit with an earpiece. The woman appears to push the man in the suit. The man and the officer then push the woman back.

She falls into a CTV camera person before continuing to fall backwards to the ground.

After she was helped up by fellow protesters, the woman told a CTV reporter that she had an egg-sized lump on her head.

The OPCC did not specify in its news release whether the man in the suit was a member of Trudeau’s security team.

Deputy Police Complaint Commissioner Andrea Spindler told the Courier at least one VPD officer is being investigated by the department’s professional standards section. Spindler said she didn’t know whether the man in the suit belonged to the VPD, or another police force.

“As of right now, we know of the one officer and that’s all we really know at this time,” said Spindler, noting the investigation was ordered Thursday. “The investigation will identify who the other individual was and who they work for.”

Spindler said the OPCC’s jurisdiction is limited to municipal police officers. If the man in the suit belonged to the RCMP, it would then be up to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP to investigate.

The OPCC’s interpretation of what is seen on the video is this:

“According to the video, during the protest a woman approaches a male standing next to a uniformed Vancouver police officer. The woman in the video steps forward and appears to make contact with one of the men, the woman is pushed back and falls to the ground.”

The OPCC said the incident was in the public interest to investigate. Section 93 of the Police Act allows the Police Complaint Commissioner to order an investigation into the conduct of a police officer “if the officer’s conduct would, if substantiated, constitute misconduct,” the news release said.

“The investigation will include any other potential misconduct, or attempted misconduct, as defined in section 77 of the Police Act that may have occurred in relation to this incident,” the release said.

Note: This story has been updated since first posted.

mhowell@vancourier.com

@Howellings

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