British Columbia

Vancouver police officers could face charges following 2018 takedown of Black man

A Vancouver man says he is still waiting for justice after a group of police officers were caught on video wrestling him to the ground for an alleged jaywalking violation.

Officers accused of kicking, hitting and repeatedly Tasering Jamiel Moore-Williams

Jamiel Moore-Williams says he is still waiting for justice after cellphone video captured a group of Vancouver police officers wrestling him to the ground for an alleged jaywalking violation in 2018. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

As police forces across the world grapple with renewed public scrutiny following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn., a Vancouver man says he is still waiting for justice after cellphone video captured a group of police officers wrestling him to the ground for an alleged jaywalking violation.

"If my friends weren't filming I probably wouldn't be here," said Jamiel Moore-Williams, 23.

"I feel targeted," he said. "I genuinely feel these guys were scared of how I look — I'm a big Black man."

In the two years since the arrest, the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner launched a criminal investigation against four officers for their involvement.

In February, that file was turned over to the B.C. Prosecution Service where it's now being assessed to see if charges are warranted, spokesperson Dan McLaughlin said in an email.

It's not known, however, when Crown counsel will make a decision.

In a lawsuit filed against the City of Vancouver, Moore-Williams says he was on Granville Street in the city's downtown in the early hours of Feb. 11, 2018, when a person in "mental distress" began to pelt him and other bystanders with rocks.

Moore-Williams, a fitness instructor and former defensive lineman for the University of British Columbia football team, says he had a decision to make.

"Do I stand and get hit by the rocks, or play superhero, or just cross the street?"

Moore-Williams says he was crossing the street because a person in 'mental distress' was pelting bystanders with rocks. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

As he stepped onto the street to avoid being hit, Moore-Williams says an officer in a Vancouver Police Department squad car blasted his horn. 

Court documents say Moore-Williams responded by throwing up his hands, and "perhaps making a rude gesture toward" the officer, before being approached, and asked to produce identification.

It's around then that his friends started filming.

In the video, Moore-Williams can be heard saying that he is giving his ID, as several officers arrive on scene.

The lawsuit states that as he held the card with his right hand, additional officers moved in, grabbing Moore-Williams' arms and legs, sending him to the ground.

Vancouver police are then accused of kicking and hitting Moore-Williams in the head and body, before eventually Tasering him seven to 14 times at close range. They issued him a ticket for jaywalking and obstruction of justice. Those charges have since been stayed.

Moore-Williams says the event still resonates with him.

"I didn't know how sad I was until I sat down and spoke to my buddy," he said. "I feel sick."

"These guys are still working and getting paid. At my job, if I did anything outside my scope, I'm not allowed to practice anymore," said Moore-Williams.

He says Vancouver police should have to wear body cameras and microphones, echoing recent calls for increased accountability from other police forces.

"I'm tired of crying," he said.

"There needs to be solutions. There needs to be justice."

Vancouver police declined to comment because the file is in front of Crown counsel.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story provided incorrect information about the number of police officers who could face charges. In fact, charges are being assessed for four Vancouver police officers.
    Jun 10, 2020 10:01 PM PT

About the Author

Ethan Sawyer

Associate Producer

Ethan Sawyer is a journalist for CBC Vancouver. He chooses waffles over pancakes, movies over television and the Toronto Raptors over everyone else. You can contact him at ethan.sawyer@cbc.ca, or by phone at (604) 662-6784. Ethan contributes to CBC Vancouver's Impact Team, where he investigates and reports on stories that impact people in their local community.

With files from Belle Puri

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