February 20, 2017
What: Today Solomon Akintoye, 33, represented by Pivot Legal Society, is seeking a ruling of wrongful arrest and excessive use of force related to his detention and violent takedown by the Vancouver Police Department in 2011. This is the first significant civil lawsuit to challenge the policies of police in British Columbia relating to investigative detention.
Improving police accountability
Akintoye was walking down Richards Street on his way to a job interview when he was confronted by officers and asked to produce ID. He complied, but was then slammed into the hood of a police car, thrown to the ground and assaulted by multiple officers. Police would later say they arrested him for “officer safety” reasons because he protested when they asked him to remove his hand from his pocket. Akintoye lives with mental illness and says his symptoms significantly worsened after the traumatic case of mistaken identity. After his arrest police determined Mr. Akintoye was not the person they were looking for.
When: Monday, February 20. Trial starts at 10:00 a.m. Lawyer Douglas King will be available for interviews during the court’s lunch break (12:30 to 2:00 p.m.) and at 4:30 p.m.
Where: BC Supreme Court, 800 Smithe Street
Why: This is an example of a traumatic police encounter that is likely to set a precedent on police powers when stopping and detaining individuals. In this case, police broadly interpreted their rights to use force against someone in the name of “officer safety”, when a simple pat-down search would have been enough to ascertain Akintoye was not armed and dangerous. While there have been similar decisions in Toronto pertaining to carding, Mr. Akintoye’s case is the first significant civil lawsuit to challenge the policies of police in British Columbia relating to investigative detention.
Peter Kim, Digital Engagement & Communications Coordinator, Pivot Legal Society
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About Pivot Legal Society
Pivot Legal Society is a leading Canadian human rights organization that uses the law to address the root causes of poverty and social exclusion in Canada. Pivot’s award winning work includes challenging laws and policies that force people to the margins of society and keep them there. Since 2002 Pivot has won major victories for sex workers’ rights, police accountability, affordable housing, and health and drug policy.