Water polo star stopped from burning cop car: video
Published Friday, June 17, 2011 5:07PM PDT
New video obtained by CTV News appears to show that a star water polo player demonized online may not be responsible for damage done to a police car during Vancouver's Stanley Cup riot.
Photographer Jordan Dyck says his camera captured a young man holding a lighter to a shirt stuffed into the gas tank of a police car and putting lit paper into the front seat, but the would-be arsonist was stopped by other men.
"I know from being right there that he didn't actually light that fire," Dyck told CTV News.
Internet sites shaming accused rioters have been overwhelmed with responses from people angry about how Vancouver descended into chaos Wednesday night.
Typically, a picture is posted by one person and then comments below identify them, providing links to their social network profiles, their phone numbers, and sometimes their addresses.
Photos were posted of the young man who appears to be attempting to light a police car on fire, and within a day Facebook users had matched a name to the face: They claimed he was a water polo player from Maple Ridge about to get a full university scholarship.
He had just been named MVP of his team, and was set to attend a graduation ceremony on Friday at a private school.
After the photo went viral, posters put up the boy's phone number and the number of his father's office. People answering the phone at the office said that a deluge of phone calls had forced them to close for the day.
At the boy's school, two staff members patrolled the entrance, and refused to comment to the media. Phone calls were responded to by a woman tersely repeating "no comment."
And Water Polo Canada has issued a provisional suspension against a young member of its Junior Men's National Team pending a hearing, though the team did not identify the young man.
A former water polo teammate who saw the photos online couldn't believe that the star could have committed a crime like that.
"Knowing him the way I know him, he's not the kind of person who would light a cop car on fire," said Aleister Patchett. "If he's drunk, he might kick a trash can over, but that's all."
Dyck's video shows the same young man lighting the shirt stuffed into the gas tank, and then placing a flaming piece of paper in the front seat.
But then another man dressed in a green shirt angrily pulls the flaming paper out of the car, and a second man in a grey shirt and black jacket pulls the shirt out and stomps it out on the curb.
"It started off as a small group of people," he said. "Once the police came, it spread."
Dyck says he left the area after that because he worried that the cars might explode. And he says he didn't see how the cars were ultimately ignited.
He says that if the individual in the video is the water polo player, the footage shouldn't let the young man off the hook.
"You're an idiot either way for participating in it," he said. "There's so many people recording everything."
Emily Carr professor Alexandra Samuel says when using social networks to find rioters, the public should remember to avoid instant conclusions and mob justice.
"There's a reason we delegate the power to law enforcement," she said. "Police have checks and balances, they're accountable to the courts … and I don't see those checks on a Facebook riot page."