Vancouver Police on a crime scene.
Credits: CARMINE MARINELLI/QMI AGENCY
An external investigation by the New Westminster Police Department found Const. Taylor Robinson abused his authority and neglected his duty when he pushed Sandy Davidsen, 26, to the ground.
In an informal hearing, the Vancouver Police Department and Robinson agreed to a one-day suspension without pay and additional training on available force options.
But in a letter outlining his reasons, police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe wrote the proposed punishment “does not reflect or adequately address the seriousness of Const. Robinson’s misconduct.”
The case will now go to a formal police disciplinary hearing on Oct. 5.
Scott Bernstien of the Pivot Legal Society called the decision a first.
“In the 10 years we’ve been monitoring policing at Pivot, we’ve never seen a case where the OPCC has overruled the VPD (disciplinary recommendations),” said Bernstien, who also is Davidsen’s lawyer. “This is a good step ... that really moves towards having an accountable police force.”
Robinson and two other officers were walking shoulder-to-shoulder on the Downtown Eastside in June 2010 when Davidsen, who suffers from cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis and walks awkwardly, tried to maneuver between them. Robinson extended his arm to push her to the ground. He made no attempt to help her up before walking away. The encounter was captured on video.
Robinson had said he thought Davidsen was grabbing for his gun.
“No where else but in the Downtown Eastside would such a thing happen in Vancouver,’’ said Bernstien. “What we’d like to see is a strong message sent regarding this officer’s discipline . . . and really send a strong message to the public that the police take this kind of thing seriously.”
Bernstein has requested that the OPCC appoint a retired judge to review the case. He also is pursuing a human rights complaint and a civil lawsuit against Robinson and the Vancouver police on Davidsen’s behalf.