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VPD officer suspended 5 days for drunk driving crash; watchdog orders review

Vancouver Police Department headquarters is seen in Vancouver, on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck Vancouver Police Department headquarters is seen in Vancouver, on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

An off-duty Vancouver police officer who allegedly drove drunk and rear-ended a van with children as passengers was handed a five-day suspension, and a watchdog has ordered a review of that decision.

The discipline meted out to Const. Samuel Cheung by his own department may have been "inappropriate and inadequate," the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner said Friday, announcing a retired judge will be appointed to re-examine the case. Further, the "nature and the seriousness" of the misconduct led the OPCC to conclude that a review would be in the public interest.

"Impaired driving continues to be one of the leading causes of death in society. The attention given to address this issue by the courts and Canadian laws demonstrates the seriousness of such conduct. Additionally, attempting to conceal this conduct by discarding evidence is a serious affront to the public trust," Prabhu Rajan, police complaint commissioner said.

What happened

On July 2, 2022, the Delta Police Department notified the Vancouver Police Department that Cheung had been involved in a crash and failed a roadside breathalyzer, according to the OPCC.

"Additionally, while at the scene, the Member disclosed to a DPD member that he was employed as a police officer with the VPD," the statement from the watchdog says.

At the station, another test revealed that Cheung's blood alcohol level was over the legal limit and he was released with a 24-hour driving prohibition and a promise to appear in criminal court. The statement from the OPCC does not say what Cheung's blood alcohol level was measured at but describes him as having been in "a significant state of impairment."

The OPCC ordered a Police Act investigation into two allegations of misconduct; that Cheung had committed "discreditable conduct" by driving while impaired, and that he had committed "corrupt practice" because he identified himself as a VPD officer.

The misconduct probe was suspended while the criminal case was underway. It resumed after Cheung pleaded guilty to one violation of the Motor Vehicle Act.

The VPD's professional standards section conducted the investigation and found Cheung had committed discreditable conduct "when off duty" by "operating a motor vehicle with his blood alcohol level over the legal limit," the OPCC said.

Reasons for review

Cheung was suspended for five days without pay, a penalty the OPCC said does not appear to have given the appropriate weight to the aggravating factors in the case, which Rajan listed.

"(They include) the member leaving the safety of his home to go for a drive while intoxicated; the danger posed to the public in driving in an intoxicated state; the danger caused to the occupants of the vehicle he struck, which included children; the damage done to the affected person’s vehicle; and attempting to hide evidence of his drinking," she wrote, adding that the investigation found Cheung has "tossed" a beer can into the nearby bushes and that Delta police found a beer can "underneath the member’s vehicle."

CTV News has contacted the BC Prosecution Service for more information about the charge to which Cheung pleaded guilty, including what the sentence or penalty was. This story will be updated when a response is received. 

Outcome of criminal case

Publicly available online court records show someone named Samuel Cheung pleaded guilty in 2023 to one count of driving a motor vehicle without due care and attention and was sentenced to pay $1,000 fine and a $150 victim surcharge. A three-month probation order was also imposed. The records indicated that the guilty plea was to a lesser included offence but did not say what charge or charges the accused originally faced. The date and location of the offence were also not included.

A spokesperson for the BC Prosecution Service, in an email, said the file stemmed from July 2, 2022, in or around Delta. The statement also said that the accused in the case was originally charged with one count of impaired driving and one count of driving with a blood alcohol concentration at or over 0.08.

The Vancouver Police Department has not responded to a request for comment on Cheung's duty status. Top Stories

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