Vancouver police officer smashes driver's window when he refuses to step out
No justification for police smashing driver window, legal expert says
A YouTube video of a Vancouver police sergeant, who smashed a motorist's window, has raised questions about the rights drivers have when they are pulled over by police.
The testy exchange caught on video shows the unidentified driver opening his window just a crack and infuriating the police officer by not stepping out of the vehicle when he was told to do so.
Instead, the driver repeatedly asked the police officer for an explanation for why he was pulled over.
"Hit the brakes, you moron," the police officer says.
"Sir, why have you pulled me over?" the unidentified driver replies.
The police officer says in the video that he can smell marijuana and warns the driver he will smash the window if he does not comply.
"I'm gonna break the window now in two seconds," the officer says, right before breaking the window.
The mystery motorist, who calls himself Bodhi Sattva on YouTube, posted that he was physically assaulted and traumatized by the arrest and was found not to be impaired. He did not respond to CBC's request for comment.
According to the Vancouver police, the incident — which happened in November — resulted in the driver being charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession for the purposes of trafficking and obstructing a police officer.
The police won't talk about the case specifically as it's still before the courts, but the force does say if drivers don't want their windows smashed, they should just co-operate with the police.
No justification for police behaviour: Legal expert
A B.C. criminal lawyer who specializes in impaired driving says the police violated the driver's rights by failing, at least in the video, to tell the driver why he was pulled over.
"You can't blame this individual for it. He's being polite and co-operative. You can blame the police for their attitude," says Paul Doroshenko. "There is no justification for this type of behaviour."
"If we start allowing behaviour like this we might as well not even have a constitution."
Doroshenko said drivers are not obligated to open their windows when asked by police, but they do have an obligation to pull over if signalled to do so and provide a driver's license through a cracked window.
"Ultimately what they do is, in my view, an unlawful arrest, smashing his window, destroying his property and it looks like a violent arrest."
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With files from Tamara Baluja