New videos surface surrounding incident in which Vancouver police cruiser struck pedestrian
Police watchdog says it is looking at how police car was driven, its speed and visibility of person hit
WARNING: This story contains a portion of a video showing the moments before a man is struck in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside which viewers may find disturbing.
The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), a non-profit organization and advocacy group, posted new videos to social media Friday of an incident in which a police car struck a pedestrian standing in the middle of a busy street on the Downtown Eastside.
B.C.'s Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the province's civilian-led police oversight agency, is looking into the incident and says a Vancouver police vehicle struck a man in the 100-block of East Hastings Street at around 3:20 a.m. PT on Tuesday.
The man was brought to hospital with serious injuries, but Vancouver police said on Friday that he has since been released and is recovering.
Vince Tao, one of VANDU's community organizers, says the group took it into their own hands to gather more information about what happened because little to no details are made public once the IIO takes over.
"Through our VANDU anonymous tip line, we've been able to collect some footage of the event from multiple angles," Tao said in an interview.
In a series of posts on Twitter, VANDU shared six videos and several photos that appear to be gathered from at least two different security cameras and another video that looks like it was recorded on the cellphone of a bystander.
Two separate videos show two different angles of the man being struck by the police car and thrown to the ground upon impact.
"It shows the velocity at which the vehicle strikes the man — suddenly and directly. The man flies several feet."
Tao says he feels the police response after the collision was also "quite disturbing."
He says three more police cruisers sped into a crowd that had gathered around the man who was hit. And he says harm reduction workers who stepped in to help the man claim they were assaulted by police after several more officers arrived on scene.
3:22AM: Three <a href="https://twitter.com/VancouverPD?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@VancouverPD</a> vehicles speed aggressively into a crowd of observers & first responders on site. (5/12) <a href="https://t.co/9WvwuRdk3a">pic.twitter.com/9WvwuRdk3a</a>—@VANDUpeople
CBC is not providing links to the other videos showing the moment of impact and its aftermath due to their graphic nature.
Asked about the video and the comments VANDU shared on social media Friday, VPD Sgt. Steve Addison said several officers responded to the Tuesday incident, and while police were providing treatment and securing the scene of a collision, there were "a number of people who did encroach upon the officers."
"This is a very common thing that happens on the Downtown Eastside," said Addison, adding that he doesn't have any specifics about what happened and that it's up to the IIO to gather all the details and make an assessment.
"I would hope that the IIO investigation would look at a number of things, he said, "including why was there a man standing in the middle of the road, in the middle of the night."
Asked if tensions have been escalating recently between the DTES community and the police, Addison insisted that's not the case. He says the VPD has officers "dedicated to that community" who have people's support and says there's been "a lot of misinformation ... spewed by people who tend to be anti-police."
WATCH | Pedestrian stands in the middle of the street as police cruiser arrives:
Call for repercussions
Tao says the videos VANDU has compiled also show it took 10 minutes for an ambulance to arrive and another 16 minutes for paramedics to assess the victim's injuries, put him in the vehicle and transport him to hospital.
He also said the video shows the man who was struck was standing in the road for about two minutes and a city bus and another police cruiser both safely drove around him.
He claims the police response after the collision shows the VPD has a "hostile stance" toward the DTES community.
"If the police want to call that sowing division or creating salacious detail — I think that what's most salacious is the fact that they ran over a man," said Tao. "There must be some consequences."
IIO still gathering evidence
In an interview with CBC, the IIO's Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald said his investigators are looking at how the police cruiser was being driven, what speed it was going, what sort of sight planes the driver had and how visible the person was before they were hit.
The IIO has been canvassing for video evidence, as it does in every case it handles, and is trying to identify the sources of the video posted Friday in an effort to track down the original recording.
MacDonald says the officers involved are legally required to co-operate with the IIO, while the victim and other witnesses aren't obligated to answer any questions.
"But we have already quite a bit of evidence, and we hope to gather more to put together a fulsome picture of what occurred here," he said.
Once the IIO wraps up its investigation, MacDonald says he will decide whether there are "reasonable grounds to believe there is an offence" — such as dangerous driving under the Criminal Code or an infraction under the Motor Vehicle Act. At that point, his recommendations would be forwarded to the B.C. Prosecution Service for consideration.