The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner has ordered a public hearing into a January 21, 2009 incident involving three off-duty police officers and newspaper delivery person Firoz Khan.
Khan, who was working for Dolphin Delivery, alleged he was beaten by the officers outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the early morning.
West Vancouver police Const. Griffin Gillan was convicted of assault and sentenced to 21 days in jail, to be served in the community.
Abbotsford police Chief Bob Rich oversaw an investigation under the Police Act that found Gillan guilty of two disciplinary defaults, and he was reduced in rank to probationary constable.
This week, Police Complaint Commissioner Stan Lowe exercised his legal authority to order the public hearing, which will be presided over by a judge appointed by Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm.
Two other officers were with Gillian, who had reportedly been drinking heavily. New Westminster police Const. Jeffrey Roger Klassen, who has taught use-of-force techniques to police, was charged with assault.
A Delta police officer wasn't charged.
I fully expect Dohm's apppintment to allow the commission counsel to probe into the conduct of the three officers and allow for cross-examination of Khan by Gillan's lawyer.
Here's what I'm not expecting to occur at this public hearing:
1. An examination of Kash Heed's role as chief of the West Vancouver police in the period following the assault. Heed is now the solicitor general. I'm interested in hearing if Heed, in his communications with the media, may or may not have violated any rights that Gillan might have had as an officer under investigation.
2. A review of the speedy response of the Vancouver Police Department in a case involving these off-duty officers, who didn't have the protection of their union. They didn't enjoy union protection because their alleged offences didn't occur while they were on the job. Ideally, this review would be contrasted with the response of the Vancouver Police Department to complaints against officers who are on the job and who enjoy the full protection of the union.
3. Recommendations to address any discrepancies between the way police chiefs respond to complaints against off-duty officers who are not under the protection of their union and the way police chiefs respond to complaints against on-duty officers under the protection of their union.
If the public hearing addresses these three areas, it might be worth the cost, which I expect will stretch into the millions of dollars after the lawyers get through all of their judicial-review applications of Dohm's preliminary rulings.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.