A Vancouver bike courier says he was stunned when police told him he was in a “voluntary fight”, after a driver roughed him up in an incident of road rage.
Edward Hoey told the Georgia Straight that he was left with a sprained shoulder; cuts on his hand, elbow, and leg; and ripped pants after he was allegedly attacked on Friday (January 24) in downtown Vancouver. Photos of the violent confrontation have been widely circulated after his girlfriend posted them on Facebook over the weekend.
“To be told that you were involved in a voluntary fight when you were assaulted and you did not want to be thrown to the ground—it’s actually quite a hurtful thing,” Hoey said by phone today (January 27).
According to Hoey, the incident began when he made a left turn from a Hornby Street traffic lane onto the Dunsmuir Street bike lane. At the intersection, a car began honking and jolting forward behind the cyclist. On Dunsmuir, near Cactus Club Café, Hoey crashed into the sidewalk and fell over his handlebars in order to avoid a collision with the “erratic” driver.
That led to the two exchanging words. Hoey alleged that, after he put his hand on the car, the driver pulled his hand through the open passenger-side window and tried to injure his wrist. As he pulled his hand out of the car, Hoey tossed some papers on the passenger seat onto the sidewalk.
Then things escalated. Hoey recalled that the driver accused him of stealing and got out of the car.
“He grabbed my arm, used his body to trip me up, and then twisted my arm behind my back and was twisting it more and more so with his body weight on top of me—to essentially the point where my arm was pointing in the wrong direction behind my back,” Hoey alleged.
Hoey claimed he didn’t hit back, but went limp and fell to the ground. Witnesses pulled the driver off him, and three Vancouver police officers arrived.
He said he wonders why police talked to the driver first, when he was “slumped over” outside Cactus Club. According to Hoey, officers then asked him “Why weren’t you in the bike lane?”, didn’t allow him to tell his side of the story, and kept the business cards handed to him by witnesses.
“When they actually approached me, they didn’t offer me any assistance,” Hoey said. “They already had basically the story in their mind. The officer that talked to me was shutting me down essentially based on what they already heard, I assume, from the driver. Quite early on in me giving my testimony, she was telling me that I wasn’t allowed to talk anymore. She was essentially talking over me, saying that this is how it was—that it was a voluntary fight, that there was no recourse.”
In a statement today, the Vancouver Police Department said the incident was due to a “disagreement over the use of a bike lane”.
“Police drove the cyclist to the hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries and released. At this time, after speaking to witnesses about the events leading up and to including the physical altercation, there is insufficient evidence to request a charge against either man,” the VPD statement reads.
“A number of photos have been distributed on social media depicting the final moments of the physical altercation. This is unfortunate, as the photos appear to paint an incomplete picture of the event. Police take these incidents very seriously, and the photographs will be forwarded to investigators to ensure all aspects of the investigation have been exhausted.”
Hoey said that, even though there’s a “war” between drivers and cyclists in the city, altercations such as this one are thankfully an anomaly.
He’s hoping the Facebook photos of the incident will serve as a warning to other cyclists to watch out for the driver he encountered.