Police allege a man assaulted an officer when they intervened in 'large fight' at a popular Vancouver beach
Police officers in Vancouver say they responded to a “large fight and a possible assault” at English Bay on Friday evening, and a person who witnessed the incident is accusing the police of racism.
One officer was sent to hospital with non life-threatening injuries and a man was arrested after police intervened in the fight which they say included 10 people.
“The officers tried to disperse the crowd, but one of the aggressors refused to leave,” says Vancouver Police Department spokesperson Const. Steve Addison in an email to CTV News Vancouver.
Video of portions of the incident, shared with CTV News Vancouver, shows three officers wielding batons, trying to gain physical control over a young Black man. They eventually handcuff and pin him to the ground. Another young man, who is white, can be seen trying to physically intervene in the arrest, but police appear to fend him off.
A person who witnessed the incident, and who said she is friends with the man who was arrested, told CTV News Vancouver that her friend had himself been trying to break up a fight.
“He broke up the fight, he didn’t do anything wrong and they’re over here arresting him and doing nothing to the white guy and it’s really messed up,” said Saina Rezaei.
She accused the police of racism, saying the cops didn’t seem to care about a white man who’d been involved in the fight.
“They don’t treat people equally, they're being racist for no reason,” she said.
The police denied the accusation. Addison alleged that eyewitnesses had told police that the man they arrested was “an aggressor” and that they “told the officers they felt unsafe.”
“What happened last night was the direct result of this man's assaultive behavior towards police and the public. It had nothing to do with race, and it is irresponsible to suggest otherwise,” Addison said.
“He became hostile, began causing a disturbance, assaulted at least one of our officers, and resisted arrest,” he said.
Local resident Susan Cunningham shot video of the arrest on her phone.
“As soon as I saw police with a young man in custody I started filming,” she said. “They were kind of trying to restrain the crowds as they (members of the crowd) were getting right in their face, shouting, ‘What is your name?’ It was a very tense situation.”
She believes police did “quite well in restraining themselves,” given how hostile the crowd was.
“I was actually worried about this crowd becoming more of a mob and worried about the safety of everyone involved because it seemed like this was ready to ignite,” she said. “Just an unruly situation and I think police did their very best to restrain things.”
Officers say they had to deal with a “large and hostile crowd” and that “other police officers were called in to keep the crowd back so the officers could safely do their jobs.”
“The suspect, a North Vancouver man in his 20s, was arrested and taken to jail. Multiple charges will be recommended,” Addison said.
Police say they also handcuffed and detained several other people.
“They were released a short time later after they had calmed down and agreed to leave the area,” Addison said. “The original incident remains under investigation.”
Police did not specify whether the man they arrested was injured, but say that two officers got cuts and bruises and “will likely be sore for a few days.” Another was sent to hospital, but is expected to make a full recovery.