VPD officer found guilty of assault in 2018 Tasering

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      A Vancouver police officer was found guilty Monday of assault with a weapon for using a stun gun a Black man who’d been arrested for jaywalking, five years after the assault happened. 

      Const. Jarrod Sidhu used a Taser on Jamiel Moore-Williams three times on February 11, 2018, after Moore-Williams had been stopped by police on Granville Street for crossing at a red light. 

      Judge Emmet Duncan ruled in Vancouver Provincial Court that the Taser was not “proportionate [or] necessary.” 

      “I reject … that Mr. Moore-Williams posed a risk of imminent bodily harm to anyone,” Duncan told the court in his guilty verdict.

      Moore-Williams said he had crossed in a hurry to get away from someone who was throwing rocks at him. Police flashed their sirens, then demanded his ID. His interaction with police was filmed, and showed multiple officers kicking and kneeing him. 

      Azuka Nduka-Agwu, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Vancouver who ran a GoFundMe to help Moore-Williams with his legal fees, told CTV News that the assault was likely motivated by anti-Black racism. 

      “Race definitely played a role in this,” Nduka-Agwu said. “The most recent data shows how much more Black and Indigenous men in particular are criminalized.”

      Recently released data from municipal police departments found that, between 2016 and 2021, Black and Indigenous people were disproportionately reported to the police, and had more charges recommended against them. In Vancouver, around one per cent of the population is Black, but about five per cent of charges were brought against Black people.

      Moore-Williams has also filed a civil suit against the city and VPD, and says that police were unnecessarily violent towards him due to his race. His lawyer, Donna Turko, said the guilty verdict in Sidhu’s case was “some justice.” 

      However, Duncan did not rule whether Sidhu’s actions were racially motivated. Moore-Williams hopes his civil suit will find that, though the timeline for that is unclear.

      “The declaration that this was discriminatory is very important to Jamiel,“ Turko told CTV News

      Officers originally wrote Moore-Williams a ticket for jaywalking and obstruction, which was later stayed. 

      An RCMP investigation charged both Sidhu and another officer, Const. Jagpreet Ghuman, in December 2020. The assault charge against Ghuman was dropped last July. 

      Ghuman was still with the VPD as of November 2021, when he spoke to Global News for an unrelated story.

      A spokesperson for the police department did not confirm to CBC News whether Sidhu will remain on duty, writing, “A Police Act investigation will be resuming, as it was suspended during the criminal trial. As such, it would be inappropriate to provide any other details.”

      Even when police in Canada use violent or fatal action against civilians, charges are rarely brought. A 2018 CBC News investigation found that in 461 police-involved fatalities, charges were laid against 18 officers and ended in two convictions. And a 2022 study of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit found that in 15 years, only eight officers were charged for deaths or near-deaths of civilians.

      Sidhu will return to court next week to set a date for sentencing.