Vancouver, B.C. [October 3]—The sentencing hearing for a Vancouver Police Department officer who pushed a disabled woman to the ground in the Downtown Eastside will be held Monday, October 6, at the Provincial Court of B.C.
Cst. Taylor Robinson, who was caught on video in June of 2010 shoving Sandy Davidsen as she walked past three VPD officers, recently accepted disciplinary charges for his actions. As a result of accepting the charges, the scheduled public hearing into the incident will be limited to sentencing. Davidsen, who has cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis, has now been waiting more than four years for Cst. Robinson to be disciplined.
“The delays we have seen in this case are completely unacceptable,” says Douglas King, lawyer at Pivot Legal Society and legal representative of Davidsen. “This case proves we still have a long way to go in building a working system of police accountability, and that loopholes in the Police Act which frustrate the public’s ability to obtain justice and transparency must be closed”.
Last November, the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner (OPCC) called for a public inquiry into the affair. This followed their rejection of VPD’s recommended discipline for Cst. Robinson. Initially, the VPD proposed a one-day suspension, which was rejected by the OPCC. Two weeks later, the VPD submitted another report, this time proposing the two-day suspension.
Former Attorney General and appeal court judge Wally Oppal has been appointed to preside over the public hearing. While initially the hearing was meant to examine the entirety of the case, including why the VPD was proposing unsatisfactory discipline, why delays in the disciplinary processed occurred, and whether Cst. Robinson was trained in the practice of “drilling” by superior officers, the matter will now be confined to what the appropriate suspension for Cst. Robinson will be.
“The public will never get to hear what really happened here, and Sandy Davidsen will never be given an explanation as to why it’s taken four years to discipline the person who assaulted her,” says King. “The process needs to change. Not only should the OPCC be given the power to call a public hearing earlier in the discipline process, but in exceptional cases like these public hearings must be freed to explore any issue in-depth as needed.”
A full timeline of the affair is available here.
A list of Pivot Legal Society recommendations for improving police accountability in B.C. based on this case is available here.
Pivot lawyer Douglas King will be available to address media prior to the hearing on Monday, October 6 at 09:15 at the Smithe Street entrance to the Provincial Court of B.C. building [map].
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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.
For additional information or to schedule an interview, please contact:
Communications Director, Pivot Legal Society