Public hearing underway into abuse of authority allegations against officer

A public hearing, ordered by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, is underway into allegations of misconduct by a Vancouver police officer two years ago. Const. Brian Hobbs is accused of unlawfully arresting and handcuffing a man in his own home.

Const. Brian Hobbs was previously cleared of wrongdoing by a senior officer

A Vancouver police officer's actions are the subject of a police complaint commission public hearing, underway in Vancouver this week. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

A public hearing, ordered by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, is underway into allegations of misconduct by a Vancouver police officer two years ago. 

Const. Brian Hobbs is accused of unlawfully entering Vancouver resident Andrew Fraser's home and handcuffing him on Nov. 18, 2015. 

Public hearing counsel Bradley Hickford told the hearing Monday he intended to hear testimony from the complainant Fraser; the police officer who was Hobbs's partner at the time; another officer who attended Fraser's home; and a Vancouver Police Professional Standards investigator, Sgt. Derek Gilmore.

Complainant testifies

In his overview, Hickford told the hearing that Hobbs and his partner were investigating stolen property and believed the suspect had entered Fraser's home on East 25th Avenue between Rupert and Cassiar Streets. 

In his testimony, Fraser told the hearing he was at home in his office when he heard the bell on his back door ring. 

He went to investigate and saw a dark figure standing inside his home wearing plainclothes and a toque.

"It scared the daylights out of me," Fraser testified. 

Fraser said he asked the man what he was doing and the man flashed what could have been a badge, but Fraser said he did not believe the man was a police officer because he was in plainclothes and came in without being invited. 

Startled, scared, agitated

Fraser told the hearing he became more agitated and repeatedly asked the man why he was in his house. He admitted he did not give the officer a chance to provide a full explanation. 

That's when the officer announced he was arresting him for being combative, Fraser said, and put him in handcuffs. 

A few minutes later, a second plainclothes officer arrived followed shortly by a uniformed officer, Fraser said. Two of the officers searched his home. After they established he was not the person they were looking for, the handcuffs were removed and he was released. 

Under cross-examination, Fraser admitted it was possible the officers tried to explain more fully what they were doing, but he just wanted them out of the house.

After they left, he immediately phoned the Vancouver police department to complain. 

"I was stressed. I was frightened.... Startled, scared, agitated," said Fraser.  

Discipline proceeding found no abuse of authority

Fraser's complaint was initially forwarded to the professional standards section of the Vancouver Police Department and investigated. 

The investigating officer, Sgt. Gilmore, recommended the allegations of abuse of authority be deemed substantiated.

But in a 2016 discipline proceeding, Supt. Mike Porteous determined Hobbs did not commit abuse of authority. 

In 2017, Fraser asked the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner to review the case and it agreed. 

Hobbs is allowed to testify and cross-examine witnesses.

Retired judge Brian Neal is serving as the adjudicator and will make the final finding. 

The hearing is scheduled for four days this week.