Victim of Transit police beating speaks out after video surfaces
Former UBC student and football player claims incident was racially motivated, has filed civil suit
The man beaten by Transit Police five years ago at the Rupert Street SkyTrain station is speaking out about the incident after video of it has surfaced.
"I thought I was going to get beaten to death," said the man who can't be named due to a publication ban but spoke to media on Saturday after video showed the violence of the confrontation.
"I was punched in the mouth originally and that's when I knew this was a fight or flight situation, there's going to be danger," he said,
Last month Transit Police Const. Edgardo Diaz Rodriguez was given 12 months probation in relation to the incident after pleading guilty to assault causing bodily harm. Diaz Rodriquez apologized in court saying he lost control of the situation.
The other officer involved has since left the force, but is named as part of a civil suit brought by the victim who is seeking damages.
The victim, a 22-year-old UBC student at the time of the assault, had gone to the station to meet someone but left after getting a text from a friend.
He was first confronted by transit police on the stairs leading from the platform and issued a ticket for fare evasion.
The officers then decided to arrest the him for obstruction, claiming he had provided a false name. The court heard he had in fact given them his full name.
"One thing led to another and they're trying to arrest me for no real reason at all," said the victim. "I even said I'll pay the ticket, I'll do that and you can let me go but they were not having any of that."
After that, the victim says the situation escalated.
I must have had a dozen strikes on my body, my elbows were swollen, I got hit in the ankles, my forearms got a lash on it.- Victim of the Rupert SkyTrain Station beating
The victim tried to flee but was grabbed and then struck more than a dozen times by the two baton-wielding officers, with Diaz Rodriguez delivering the majority of the blows to the victim's head and neck area.
"I have multiple injuries, my back had been riddled by the baton, I must have had a dozen strikes on my body, my elbows were swollen, I got hit in the ankles, my forearms got a lash on it," he said. "Obviously my head I had stitches there, my lip had a cut from the original punch."
Micheal Vonn of the B.C. Civil Liberties Society, who has seen the video, says it's unsettling.
"It's ghastly, it's simply shocking," she said. "What you see in the video is someone being batonned repeatedly, someone who is posing absolutely no threat to anyone you can see."
Meanwhile Transit Police is not commenting on the video or the claim by the victim and his lawyer Aseem Dosanjh that the incident was racially motived.
"We are hoping to purpose this case by way of jury trial, because I think people in our community here in Canada will see this case for what it is all about which is a young man, the fact is that he comes from a coloured background, was approached by the police at most should have been given a ticket, but instead was beat viciously," he told CBC News.
The victim says he has been unable to play football as a result of the incident and suffer panic attacks whenever he sees Transit Police.
Meanwhile Diaz Rodriguez has been placed on administrative duties for five years with the force and continues to collect his full salary.
In response to the victim's civil claim, the two defendants say the plaintiff did not suffer any injury, loss, damage or expense as alleged and that their actions were necessary to carry out their duties as Transit Police officers.