Vancouver police have launched an investigation after one of their officers was caught on CBC video kicking a restrained and handcuffed suspect in the chest.

Ryan James Felton, a 39-year-old from Surrey, was arrested by police after being accused of taking $150 in cash and $250 in merchandise from a sex shop. He then ran around a residential neighbourhood in his underwear in what police have called "an apparent bad reaction to drugs".

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association says the officer's actions are borderline criminal, and shows that the Vancouver Police Department has not learned from other recent high-profile cases involving excessive force.

"This is somebody who is handcuffed, virtually naked, sitting on the sidewalk, getting kicked. And that's not acceptable," said BCCLA spokesman David Eby.

The incident happened at 8:15 p.m. PT Wednesday night at the corner of 15th and Fir Street in the Shaughnessy area, when police cars swooped into the upscale neighbourhood.

Police were responding to a call about a robbery at a store and reports that a man was taking off his clothes and trying to enter a home.

The circumstances leading up to the incident are unclear, but police can be seen arresting a man in his underwear, asking him if he has a gun, and questioning him about drugs. In the video, the man, in handcuffs, does not appear to put up a struggle.

CBC producer filmed incident

But as a CBC producer films the scene, a plainclothes officer kicks him in the chest, with enough force to snap the suspect's head back. He then falls to one side, still handcuffed.

"When you have somebody who is... very clearly not a threat and you use force, there's no legal authority to do that," Eby said.

The Vancouver Police say the officer involved will "not be deployed operationally" until an investigation is conducted.

"The Vancouver Police Professional Standards Section has initiated an investigation into the actions of a plainclothes police officer who allegedly committed an assault by kicking a handcuffed prisoner in the chest," the force said in a statement.

The Abbotsford Police Department has also been asked to conduct an external investigation of the incident. 

Police say the suspect, Felton, was taken to Vancouver General Hospital on Wednesday night, treated for a drug overdose, and returned to police custody.

He has been charged with one count of robbery.