Assault charges have been laid against two Vancouver police officers after the arrest of a Black man in February 2018.
The B.C. Prosecution Service said Tuesday that Const. Jarrod Sidhu is accused of one count of assault with a weapon and Const. Jagpreet Ghuman is charged with assault in connection with their involvement in the arrest of Jamiel Moore-Williams.
The 24-year-old former University of British Columbia football player filed a civil lawsuit months after the arrest, alleging that an officer stopped him for jaywalking in the city’s entertainment district, then three other officers “converged” on him, kicking and hitting him.
He says he was jolted seven to 14 times with a stun gun.
None of the allegations in the criminal case or civil lawsuit have been tested in court.
The City of Vancouver filed a response to the civil lawsuit denying all claims, saying in August 2018 that an RCMP criminal investigation had been launched in the alleged assault.
In a statement of claim, Moore-Williams alleges that the police asked for his identification because of his size and skin colour for an improper purpose contrary to his civil liberties.
“The fact the plaintiff stepped out on the road against the light became a convenient excuse to detain the plaintiff and request his identification,” it says.
Moore-Williams works in Vancouver as a personal trainer and his statement of claim said he had a concussion and injuries to his arms, neck and back allegedly as a result of the arrest.
The lawsuit says he was placed in handcuffs and shackles. It asks for damages for humiliation, embarrassment, loss of dignity, pain, permanent injury and mental anguish.
Lawyer Donna Turko says her client’s lawsuit is ongoing and he has also filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal alleging he was treated unfairly because he is Black.
Moore-Williams says he hopes speaking out will lead to changes for others who look like him.
“It’s not about me, per se. What hurts is when people in your family call your phone, or your friends … and they’re hurt by what happened to you,” he said in an interview on Tuesday.
The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner said Tuesday the RCMP completed its investigation but didn’t refer the matter to the prosecution service for consideration of criminal charges.
The commissioner said in a statement that after reviewing the RCMP investigation, it considered that one or more officers may have committed criminal offences and referred the matter directly to the B.C. Prosecution Service for consideration of charges.
The office says a disciplinary conduct investigation under the Police Act will take place, but it is suspended pending the outcome of the criminal charges.
The accused officers are expected to make their first appearance in Vancouver provincial court on Jan. 14.
Terri Theodore, The Canadian Press
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