Vancouver police lawyer hopes to quash hearing

Yao Wei Wu suffered broken orbital bone in arrest

Two Vancouver police constables may not face a public hearing to review their conduct in a January 2010 arrest that left an East Side man seriously injured in a case of so-called mistaken identity.

Constables Bryan London and Nicholas Florkow are awaiting a B.C. Supreme Court ruling on whether Police Complaint Commissioner Stan Lowe's decision to order a public hearing for March 12 was warranted.

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That ruling could come anytime, according to Kevin Woodall, the lawyer acting on behalf of the constables in the legal challenge that was last heard in court Nov. 24. "He said he was hoping to get it out within two or three weeks," Woodall said of B.C. Supreme Court Justice D. Allan Betton's pending ruling. "If we are successful, there won't be a public hearing."

The case involves Yao Wei Wu, whose injuries on the early morning of Jan. 21, 2010 included a broken orbital bone. Wu, a floor installer, suffered the injuries 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 domestic assault.

That was a finding in the Delta Police's investigation of the incident, which cleared the constables 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 added.

Lowe wasn't satisfied with the conclusion announced by Delta Police Chief Jim Cessford in November 2010 and ordered a public hearing.

Lowe alleged in a written statement that London and Florkow committed an abuse of their authority in the performance of their duties and "intentionally or recklessly used unnecessary force."

Lowe also said "flaws" existed in the investigation but didn't provide details, according to Woodall, who argued his point in a petition filed in court as part of the legal challenge. "There were, in fact, no material flaws in the investigation," Woodall wrote. "It was patently unreasonable of the police complaint commissioner to claim that there were flaws in the investigation."

Rollie Woods, deputy police complaint commissioner, said his agency believes it has a strong case for ordering the hearing. Woods said the commissioner's office is looking forward to the judge's ruling, which will test Lowe's ability to order future public hearings. "We're eager to get an answer so that we can get to an outcome on this and on some of the other cases that are open," Woods said. "We think we've got a pretty good case, otherwise we probably wouldn't be fighting it."

Wu has refused media requests for interviews because of the court battle and his pending lawsuit against the constables. Bill Chu belonged to a group of people who held several press conferences after Wu was injured to raise concerns about the conduct of the police officers in question.

Chu said he last spoke to Wu 10 days ago. He wouldn't comment on Wu's health but said Wu was disappointed the officers' lawyer is attempting to quash the public hearing.

"He's very upset," he said, noting Wu's fight for justice has dragged on for almost two years. "The whole thing has been nothing but delay and delay and delay of justice. They're pulling everything out of the book to stop an innocent party from getting some justice."

mhowell@vancourier.com

Twitter: @Howellings

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