On November 13, B.C. police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe said we need a public inquiry into Vancouver police Const. Taylor Robinson pushing a disabled woman to the ground. But we also need a public inquiry into the way Lowe and his office handled the case. Evidence suggests a joint OPCC/VPD cover-up that lasted over six weeks.
Robinson’s shoving of Sandy Davidsen took place June 9, 2010. But it didn’t become public knowledge until July 22, 2010, when the media got ahold of surveillance video. Then, and only then, did the VPD and OPCC each publicly state that they learned about the encounter soon after it happened.
A few days after July 22, an investigation by an outside police force was ordered and Robinson was transferred to other duties. Until then he had still been walking a beat in the same poverty-stricken neighbourhood where he could encounter his victim again.
Some kind of VPD response apparently did occur during that more than six-week period. As a result, Davidsen received a letter in which Robinson seemed to have made a conditional apology and a self-serving excuse for shoving her. The letter wasn’t even signed.
Robinson faced no repercussions, the incident was kept secret, and the OPCC apparently approved.
What a difference the July 22, 2010, media coverage made. Now, after years of delay, Lowe and the OPCC criticize the VPD’s handling of the case.
But why didn’t Lowe and the OPCC publicly acknowledge the incident before July 22, 2010? Why didn’t Lowe and the OPCC order an outside police force to investigate? Why wasn’t Robinson transferred to other duties?
We might never know because the OPCC answers to no one—absolutely no one at all.
The only pretence of scrutiny Lowe’s OPCC has ever faced was a sham inquiry that ended in March. Then-auditor general John Doyle took part, praising the OPCC but releasing almost no information about his actual findings or how they were obtained. He did state: “Excluded from the scope of the audit was providing an opinion about the validity of investigation decisions.” That calls into question what he did audit.
Another part of the inquiry was a legislative committee made up of seven MLAs from the B.C. Liberals and NDP. They spoke only with police interests and refused to even consider written submissions they received from the public. One of them concerned the OPCC’s handling of the Robinson case.
This could be an example of how the OPCC, which is stacked with ex-cops, handles other cases.