VPD chief honours officers, civilians

Men among several officers and citizens awarded commendations

Const. Mike Laurin looked a lot better Wednesday than he did after taking a brick to the head on the night of the Stanley Cup riot in June 2011.

His full head of red hair covered up the 14-stitch scar just above his forehead. And his three months off work to recover from the nasty gash and concussion is way behind him.

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I feel good, I feel fine, said Laurin, who is a member of one of the Vancouver Police Departments emergency response teams.

Laurin, 35, was one of several officers and citizens recognized Wednesday at the Roundhouse Community Centre by Police Chief Jim Chu and Mayor Gregor Robertson for their bravery during the riot.

Laurins team had been on the job for several hours the night of June 15 before responding to reports of up to 75 people attempting to break through the windows of a Sport Chek store in the 500-block of Howe Street.

Once the windows shattered and the crowd rushed in, three officers attempted to pull people out of the store. Laurin jumped out of the teams truck to give his fellow officers cover.

The team is equipped with heavy helmets and officers had worn them most of the night. They took them off in the truck during a breather.

I had the decision to grab my helmet, or grab my baton, Laurin said. They were getting assaulted. I felt I had to go in for their protection.

He was standing outside the store when he got hit with the brick. At first, he thought somebody had punched him. Then he saw the brick at his feet and blood gushed into his eyes.

He took cover in the store, checked his wound in a mirror and then focused on clearing the building. Twenty minutes later, a paramedic arrived and told him he needed to go to the hospital.

On Wednesday, Laurin joked that at six-foot-seven he was probably an easy target and the brick would have sailed over the heads of some of his shorter team members.

Holding his Chief Constables Commendation in his hand, he said he attended the ceremony with some reluctance, noting there were many acts of bravery committed by officers and citizens that night.

I dont think anybody did things that night with the goal of getting a commendation, its just an outcome, he said. I would gladly give this up [the commendation], if the riot didnt happen.

Police never did catch the person responsible for tossing the brick but have arrested 15 people in connection with the assault of Robert Mackay, who attempted to hold back a crowd from busting in to the Bay department store on West Georgia.

Mackay was swarmed and beaten before Chris McLelland and Dean Seskin intervened and escorted him to safety.

The police chief and mayor recognized the three men for with the Certificate of Merit, which is the Vancouver Police Boards highest award for civilian bravery.

Im quite honoured to be receiving the award and glad that Chris and Dean received the award, too, Mackay said after the ceremony.

Citizens Bert Easterbrook and Andrew Perry were also recognized for preventing further damage to vehicles, including a police car, on the night of the riot.

Many other citizens received Certificate of Merit awards for their efforts June 15 and their names and stories can be viewed on the VPDs website.

The same goes for a list of officers who were recognized for a variety of work unrelated to the riot, including dangerous arrests, solving murders and preventing suicides.

mhowell@vancourier.com

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