Nova Scotia

Halifax police issue arrest warrant for man seen in controversial videos with officer

An arrest warrant has been issued for a man seen in videos that were widely shared on social media because of controversial comments made by a Halifax Regional Police officer.

A protest was held Thursday outside Halifax Regional Police HQ, calling on officers 'to do better'

HRP say an arrest warrant for robbery has been issued in connection with an incident on Wentworth Drive in Halifax on March 26. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

An arrest warrant has been issued for a man seen in videos that were widely shared on social media because of controversial comments made by a Halifax Regional Police officer.

Police identified the man Thursday as Robert Roech Chan, 28, of Halifax. He is wanted for robbery.

The force said earlier this week that it has launched an internal investigation after a 28-second video and an eight-minute one surfaced online of an interaction between a white police officer and Chan, who is Black.

The videos sparked conversations about racial profiling among law enforcement after the officer — whose gun is pointed at Chan — is heard saying something that sounds like, "I will fill you full of f--king lead."

CBC News has not confirmed who recorded the videos.

Halifax are asking for the public's help in finding Robert Roech Chan, 28, of Halifax. (Halifax Regional Police)

The videos were taken after police responded to a weapons complaint in the 200 block of Wentworth Dr. in Halifax around 6 p.m. AT on March 26.

In a news release, police said they found four men in two vehicles at the address. One of the men had non-life-threatening injuries. 

Three of the men were arrested, but the fourth — since identified as Chan — fled.

The injured man and another man were released without charges shortly after being arrested. The release said the injured man declined medical treatment.

The third man, Derrick Coryaunt Allison, 30, of Halifax, was charged with drug- and firearm-related offences.

A number of people have condemned the language used by the officer since the videos were shared online, including Premier Iain Rankin, who called the comments "disgusting."

Halifax resident Irvine Carvery agreed the language the officer used wasn't appropriate, but said he doesn't believe racism was a factor.

Irvine Carvery says the 8-minute video doesn't show 'derogatory, racist language coming from the officer.' (Robert Guertin/CBC)

"I didn't hear any kind of derogatory, racist language coming from the officer … If you take the Black guy out of the picture and put a white guy in the picture, where's the racism?" said Carvery.

Sgt. Dean Steinburg, the president of the Halifax Regional Police Association, has said he understands why the comments made are concerning, but he doesn't believe they were racially motivated.

Protest held at police HQ

On Thursday, a small protest led by activist Raymond Sheppard was held outside Halifax Regional Police headquarters on Gottingen Street.

Sheppard said he wanted to send a message to police that "you can do better, you should do better, you need to do better."

"I know there's many people in unions and whatnot that say this officer did nothing wrong, but the fact of the matter is that he hurt the relations that we're trying to build with police and police say they're trying to build with the African Nova Scotian community," he said.

Protest at Halifax police headquarters

CBC News Nova Scotia

4 months ago
3:25
A group led by Raymond Sheppard gathered outside the Halifax police headquarters to protest the interaction between a police officer and a Black man on March 26 that was captured on video. Colleen Jones reports. 3:25

GameChangers902, a Halifax-based advocacy group, issued a statement earlier this week calling the incident a racially motivated act of police misconduct, and called on the province's independent police watchdog to investigate.

Felix Cacchione, director of the Serious Incident Response Team, said Tuesday the agency will not be investigating because the incident does not meet its mandate.

Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella said the comments that appear to have been made by the officer were "unacceptable," and confirmed the officer has been placed on administrative duties pending an investigation into the incident.

He added the force is committed to a full investigation, which will examine what led to the incident, and what was said and in what context.

Thursday's news release asks that anyone with information about Chan's whereabouts or about the incident to call 902-490-5016 or contact Crime Stoppers.

Chan has a prior criminal record, including a conviction for assault causing bodily harm from October 2015 and of resisting and obstructing a peace officer from January 2012.

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With files from Colleen Jones

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