Disturbing video shows transit officers beating UBC student
Five years after a university student was violently attacked by transit police in East Vancouver, newly released video is giving the public a clear and startling view of the beating.
CTV News obtained the surveillance footage from court on Thursday, two weeks after one of the officers involved, Const. Edgardo Diaz-Rodriguez, was sentenced to 12 months’ probation for the assault.
It shows Diaz-Rodriguez and fellow officer Michael Hughes approaching the then-22-year-old victim, whose identity is protected, and asking for his name on Aug. 10, 2011 at the Rupert SkyTrain Station.
The officers believed the young man, who was a University of British Columbia varsity football player at the time, had given them a fake name, and tried to arrest him.
When he showed resistance, the officers tackled him to the ground, where they punched him in the head 10 times and struck him with a baton 11 times, according to court documents.
“I tried to retreat from the strikes and blows to my face, mouth and head,” the victim said in a statement provided for the case.
“I could feel and hear the hits one by one on my back and head like the thud of a drum. Looking down at my feet trying to protect my face I saw lots of blood pour from out my head. That instant I became fearful of my life.”
He managed to run away, but was surrounded by additional officers shortly after and surrendered. He was then taken to Burnaby General Hospital for treatment of his injuries, which included a cut on his head that required stitches.
Officers said apart from providing what they believed was a fake name, the student was found walking out of a fare-paid zone without a fare. The young man said he’d only been waiting to meet a friend who was supposed to arrive on a train.
The former UBC student has no criminal record, and his old coach described him as an outstanding young man.
“He comes from a humble background, but a real good kid and always worked hard and I have a lot of fond memories [of him],” Shawn Olson said.
One officer, Hughes, quit the force the year after the incident. Diaz-Rodriguez remained on and was put on administrative duties, where he’s remained ever since, drawing a salary of around $90,000 a year.
Diaz-Rodriguez pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm in the attack and was sentenced on June 24. He was also convicted under the Police Act for neglect of duty in 2015, and suspended for eight days without pay.
Following the release of the video, Transit Police spokeswoman Anne Drennan said the incident is troubling, but situations such as these are “extremely rare.”
“We don’t condone this kind of behaviour in the Transit Police,” Drennan said.
Transit Police is under a different regime now, she added, and if a similar incident happened today the officer or officers involved would be fired.
It’s still possible Diaz-Rodriguez could lose his job. Because of his conviction, two new processes have been launched under the Police Act that could result in his dismissal.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Jon Woodward