A disciplinary hearing for a Vancouver constable who pushed a disabled woman to the ground on the Downtown Eastside gets underway today in Vancouver Provincial Court.
However, what was originally supposed to be a two-week public hearing is now expected to take no more than a day after Const. Taylor Robinson accepted the disciplinary charges against him and an agreed statement of facts.
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Robinson was caught on video shoving Sandy Davidsen, who has cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis, to the ground in June 2010 as she tried to cut between three officers on the sidewalk.
With Robinson's hearing set for Monday, the Pivot Legal Society, who is representing Davidsen, is calling for better training for police officers who work in marginalized communities.
Pivot says officers should be provided with mentors and taught to be more sensitive toward the needs of people like Davidsen.
In August 2012, the Vancouver Police Department proposed a one-day suspension for Robinson but the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner disagreed and ordered a discipline hearing.
Pivot says four-year delay unacceptable
The hearing occurred 11 months later, and the department proposed a two-day suspension. But the penalty was rejected by police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe, who, in November 2013, ordered a public hearing.
Robinson recently accepted responsibility for his actions, but retired B.C. Appeal Court judge Wally Oppal will still examine the case at the hearing.
Pivot lawyer Douglas King, who represents Davidsen, said a four-year delay to get the case to this point is far too long.
"The delays we have seen in this case are completely unacceptable," he said. "This case proves we still have a long way to go in building a working system of police accountability."
Robinson was charged with assault in Dec. 2010 following a public outcry over the incident, but the charge was later stayed and Robinson was ordered to complete an alternative measures program.
After an investigation by the New Westminster Police Department in 2012, which concluded the video clearly demonstrated abuse of authority and neglect of duty, it was recommended that Vancouver police take greater disciplinary action against Robinson.
Robinson said in a written apology to Davidsen that he thought she was reaching for his weapon, and that he regrets not helping her off the ground after pushing her down.
Sgt. Randy Fincham, spokesman for the Vancouver Police Department, said it would not be appropriate for him to comment on the recommendations before the hearing.