Vancouver police shoving victim pursues civil suit, human rights complaint

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.



dave jones

Nov 11, 2010 at 8:43pm

I read that apology when it published in the media. Her lawyer's right, the officer told her she was to blame for the incident because she tried to grab his gun even though the video shows no such thing happened and she had already passed him when he turned and shoved her. My guess is that the officers assumed she was just another drunk and was disrespecting them by not getting out of their way.


Nov 12, 2010 at 8:54am

"investigation initiated by the VPD and being carried out by the New Westminster Police Service".

Sigh. Why is such an obvious conflict of interest allowed to continue? Can’t we appoint independent investigators for these sorts of matters??

East Van Arts

Nov 12, 2010 at 6:00pm

This is yet another instance of police lying, and then 'correcting' the record when video tape is found. Are the police so stupid as to be unaware that cameras are everywhere nowadays?

The video clearly demonstrates that the police were lying up until the moment it was released. Then, as if by magic, the offending officers changed their stories.

Every citizen wishes the victim well, and success in her civil suit. If she wins, the Court must order that the officers pay PERSONALLY for their misconduct. They cannot justify fleecing the taxpayers -- though surely they will try.

Cops cannot be trusted to investigate cops. Ever.