British Columbia

Hearing begins for Transit Police officers captured on video beating 22-year-old man

More than six years after two Transit Police officers violently beat a 22-year-old UBC student at the Rupert SkyTrain station, a public hearing investigates allegations of professional misconduct.

Const. Edgar Diaz and former constable Michael Hughes are facing allegations of professional misconduct

Video surfaced in 2016 depicting a 2011 incident in which Transit Police try to detain a UBC student at the Rupert Street SkyTrain station. (TransLink)

More than six years after one Transit Police officer pleaded guilty to assault in the beating of a 22-year-old UBC student at the Rupert SkyTrain station, a public hearing is investigating allegations of professional misconduct against two officers.

The 2011 incident was captured on video and appeared to show constables Edgar Diaz and Michael Hughes hitting the man with a baton and punching him in the head.

After a lengthy external investigation, both officers were criminally charged with assault causing bodily harm in 2015. Diaz pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months of probation. The charges were dropped against Hughes, who has since resigned from his transit position.

Both officers are facing a number of allegations of misconduct under the Police Act and on Friday a public hearing begins in relation to some of those allegations.

Excessive Force

The hearings into professional misconduct could only begin after the criminal matter was dealt with, which explains the lengthy delay in proceedings.

"[A public hearing] is a new trial. It's brand new. New evidence can be introduced. You're not bound by whatever evidence was introduced before.It allows there to be a proper canvassing and airing of evidence under oath by witnessess," said Rollie Woods, deputy police complaint commissioner.

Woods said one of the allegations is that both Diaz and Hughes used excessive force.

"That would be one of the allegations that would be looked at during the course of the public hearing: is there evidence of excessive force... and was the force justified in law?" said Woods.

Woods said Diaz is still a member of the force but not in an operational capacity.

The penalties for the officers range from a reprimand or suspension to a demotion or dismissal.

The victim — who can't be named because of a court order — has also filed a separate civil suit against the two officers and Transit Police.

That case is slated to go to trial in June 2018.