A Vancouver police officer has received a suspended sentence and 12 months probation that could include anger management counselling for threatening to bash in the head of a Coquitlam furniture storeowner.
Deepak Kumar Sood, 35, was convicted in January of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm to Gert Knudsen, the owner of M&M Furniture, after a dresser tipped on his four-year-old son’s foot while at home on Jan. 6, 2018.
His son wasn’t seriously injured.
Sood was off duty at the time and acknowledged during court proceedings that he could have made up to 25 calls to the store demanding that staff retrieve the dresser, which was delivered with an anchoring mechanism for a wall. Sood mistakenly assumed it was the responsibility of the store's staff to fasten the dresser to the wall, court documents said.
Sood admitted several times in court that he behaved “like an asshole” towards M&M staff, whom he called on a Saturday and was told a delivery truck couldn’t pick up the dresser until Monday. Sood, however, denied he threatened the staff but agreed he was loud, angry and his language profane.
In releasing Thursday his written decision for sentencing, Port Coquitlam provincial court Judge Thomas Woods described Sood's behaviour as "a tirade that went on for a period of hours." He pointed out Sood threatened to return the dresser to the store on United Boulevard and throw it through its front window.
“More importantly, Mr. Sood also threatened to ‘bash [Mr. Knudsen’s] f***ing head in,'" Woods wrote. "When Mr. Knudsen cautioned him that he would have to call the police if such threats were to continue, Mr. Sood replied by identifying himself as a policeman, stating ‘Don’t bother, I am the f***ing police.’”
Knudsen provided a victim impact statement to the court in which he made reference to “the genuine fear he had for himself and his staff, given that Sood’s threats ‘seemed credible and very real.’”
In his 40 years in the retail business, Knudsen said, he has dealt with his share of rude and belligerent customers, but “the interaction with Mr. Sood stands out, as I have never had my life threatened by somebody who was clearly out of control and whose threats to my safety seemed so credible.”
Knudsen was also troubled that media exposure of the incident with Sood “might cause some members of the public to think that M&M in some way bears negative attitudes toward the police.”
Knudsen: “Despite knowing that I have been honest about the incident, it seems possible that colleagues and friends of Mr. Sood may believe him over me. While I have faith in the legal system and the many good officers in law enforcement, Mr. Sood’s behaviour has left room for doubt and has impacted my overall sense of safety and security.”
Sood, who lives in Surrey, joined the Vancouver Police Department at 25 and is a member of the beat enforcement team in the Downtown Eastside, where Woods noted “the challenges are extraordinary and call for a particularly sensitive and empathetic kind of police work. To all accounts, Mr. Sood has performed that difficult work in an exemplary way.”
Woods said Sood has an unblemished record with the department. He noted the constable has been “introspecting deeply since Jan. 6, 2018 and taking careful stock of his conduct on that day.”
“I also understand that he has done at least some investigation into resources that might assist him in maintaining better control of his temper at times of stress and upset,” Woods said.
Woods declined to give Sood a conditional discharge, as requested, and instead imposed a suspended sentence, along with terms of probation that “may include, but is not limited to, anger management counselling.” Thirty hours of community service work and not to have contact with Knudsen, his son and another staff member or be found within 100 metres of their residences or store are other requirements of his probation.
“The fact that a suspended sentence would leave Mr. Sood with a criminal record is a matter of grave concern to him for reasons that everyone can understand,” the judge said.
“But, there are times when having an offender’s transgression made formally a matter of public record can be justified. It can be justified here, in my view, in order to serve the objectives of enhancing general deterrence and of cultivating public confidence in the police, in the law, and in the processes by which law enforcement personnel are held to account when they transgress.”
Const. Steve Addison, a VPD media relations officer, said Thursday that Sood is “still an active member.” Addison issued the following statement on Sood’s sentencing:
“The Police Act investigation regarding this matter was suspended during the criminal proceedings. We anticipate the [Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner] will now resume its investigation. It would not be appropriate for the VPD to comment further at this time.”