British Columbia

Police complaints office rejects officer's 1-day suspension

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner has rejected a one-day suspension for a Vancouver police officer who pushed over a disabled woman on a Downtown Eastside sidewalk.

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner has rejected a one-day suspension for a Vancouver police officer who pushed over a disabled woman on a Downtown Eastside sidewalk.

Const. Taylor Robinson was captured by surveillance video walking shoulder to shoulder with two other officers down the busy Hastings Street sidewalk on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside in June 2010.

When the trio encounter Sandy Davidsen, who suffers from cerebral palsy and was walking with obvious difficulty, Robinson can be seen pushing Davidsen to the ground after she bumped into him.

The incident outraged the public and in December 2010, Crown counsel approved assault charges against Robinson.

However, the charges were later stayed and Robinson was ordered to complete an alternative measures program.

But earlier this year, an investigation by the New Westminster Police Service "determined the evidence appeared to substantiate the allegations" of abuse of authority and neglect of duty.

As a result, the Vancouver Police Department proposed suspending Robinson for one day and ordered him to undertake one day of specified training in available force options and appropriate responses.

But in a letter issued on Aug. 13, Police Complaint Commissioner Stan Lowe said the one-day suspension was not appropriate for the circumstances.

"Specifically, the discipline proposed does not reflect or adequately address the seriousness of Const. Robinson's misconduct," Lowe said in the letter.

Victim rejects officer's apology

In a statement issued by the Pivot Legal Society, Davidsen said she supports the rejection of the discipline by the OPCC, and hopes there will finally be some meaningful consequences for the officer.

A surveillance video shows Const. Taylor Robinson allegedly shoving Sandy Davidsen on a Hastings Street sidewalk in June 2010. (CBC)

"He never really apologized," said Davidsen. "The letter sent was just a justification for pushing me and then he didn't even take the time to sign it."

In the letter of apology to Davidsen, Robinson said he thought she was reaching for his firearm and instinctively pushed her away, he regretted how much force he used and that he didn't help her back to her feet and check if she was okay afterwards.

A new disciplinary hearing will now be held to investigate the incident. Davidsen's lawyer Scott Bernstein said he has requested the OPCC appoint a retired judge rather than have a police officer review the case.

"All too often police disciplining police results in a slap on the wrist. To restore public faith and promote a culture of responsibility among officers, British Columbia must end the practice of police investigating and disciplining police once and for all."