A disabled woman who was shoved to the ground by a Vancouver police officer is taking her case to court.
Sandy Davidsen will file a civil suit in small-claims court and a separate complaint before the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, according to her lawyer, Scott Bernstein.
“It’s assault and battery by the police without a justifiable reason for them to do it,” Bernstein told the Straight by phone of his client’s grounds for pursuing a small-claims-court suit.
Bernstein explained that the complaint before the human-rights tribunal is based on the police’s failure to accommodate Davidsen’s disabilities in their delivery of services.
The shoving incident happened on June 9 in the Downtown Eastside. It was filmed by a surveillance camera, and the footage was released by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association in July.
The video shows three male Vancouver Police Department officers walking side by side and encountering a woman with visible difficulty walking. One of the officers pushes her to the sidewalk. The three cops leave her lying on the ground. A civilian at the scene helps her to her feet.
The officer who shoved Davidsen, Const. Taylor Robinson, apologized to her in a letter. But according to Bernstein, his client isn’t satisfied with the officer’s apology.
“It’s kind of a non-apology where you say, ”˜Oh, I’m sorry you’re upset about this,’ ” Bernstein said. “He actually didn’t apologize for pushing her. He did apologize for leaving the scene and letting her stay there, but he kind of made excuses.”
Pivot Legal Society is assisting Davidsen in the Police Act investigation initiated by the VPD and being carried out by the New Westminster Police Service. According to Pivot lawyer Doug King, Davidsen has multiple sclerosis.
VPD spokesperson Const. Lindsey Houghton told the Straight it would be “improper” for the department to comment on a potential court case. “We would certainly reserve any comments or information for that court case, and certainly out of respect for the ongoing Police Act investigation,” Houghton said by phone.