Policing
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

VicPD officers use dangerous driving tactics: reports

A BC Civil Liberties Association spokesperson calls the incidents concerning.

Mark Brennae
June 26, 2024
Policing
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

VicPD officers use dangerous driving tactics: reports

A BC Civil Liberties Association spokesperson calls the incidents concerning.

Mark Brennae
Jun 26, 2024
A VicPD cruiser. Photo: Flickr
A VicPD cruiser. Photo: Flickr
Policing
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

VicPD officers use dangerous driving tactics: reports

A BC Civil Liberties Association spokesperson calls the incidents concerning.

Mark Brennae
June 26, 2024
Get the news and events in Victoria, in your inbox every morning.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
VicPD officers use dangerous driving tactics: reports
A VicPD cruiser. Photo: Flickr

A cyclist is suing VicPD, claiming one of its officers intentionally used a police cruiser to knock them from their e-bike at the Gorge and Harriet intersection in January 2023—a tactic officers seem to be applying often, according to data obtained through a freedom of information request. 

It’s one of a dozen or so occasions in the last 10 years when Victoria police used vehicles to purposely hit people riding bikes, scooters, or who were on foot, according to a report in the Times Colonist.

Alkido Pashollari says they were riding their bike around 10:30 on the night of the sixth when they went through a red light. “A Victoria police officer turned their lights and sirens on. I assumed she was going to drive passed (sic) me so I continued biking,” Pashollari said in a notice of claim filed in provincial small claims court on Jan. 27, 2023, according to documents obtained through a freedom of information request.

“At Gorge Rd. W. between Harriet Road and Qu’Appelle St., she drove beside me, and hit me with her vehicle on my left side, knocking me to the ground,” Pashollari wrote.

Pashollari said there were no other drivers around and a concerned pedestrian approached to see if they were OK but police asked them to leave, they said. Pashollari was taken to Vic General by ambulance and diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder. They said the injury prevented them from working for two weeks and that their damaged bike was taken by police and not immediately returned.

Pashollari is suing for $16,716 in damages, including $3K in lost wages, $3,500 for the loss of their downhill mountain e-bike, and $10K for pain and suffering (filing and service fees make up the sum).

VicPD changes its response

In an April 6, 2023 reply to the courts, VicPD denied each of Pashollari’s claims, including that they suffered any injury or loss, saying they weren’t entitled to a payment.

VicPD then conducted an internal investigation and as a result, just two weeks ago on June 13, amended its reply to the courts in which each of those denials is crossed out.

In a statement to the Times Colonist, VicPD said the officer involved “had reason to believe that the person on the bike was wanted on warrants and was considered a danger to the community.”

The person didn’t stop, so the officer used the vehicle to make “contact with the rear wheel of the bike.”

The officer then learned it was the wrong person, but also that Pashollari had breached court-ordered conditions related to a serious offence, VicPD said. But the subsequent investigation determined the officer had used an inappropriate amount of force, VicPD said.

In court documents, VicPD admitted a vehicle its officers were driving “collided with the Claimant” after they saw them cycle through a red light. “The Claimant refused to stop and the Defendant’s officers used their police vehicle to make contact with the E-bike’s rear-wheel in order to stop the Claimant and to prevent the Claimant from fleeing,” VicPD said.

The department also said it had been improperly named as a defendant in the case and that the claimant would have to go after the city.

“VicPD is not a legal entity and is not capable of being sued,” the amended reply reads. “The Corporation of the City of Victoria is the legal entity ultimately responsible for the conduct of the VicPD, including its employees.”

It also said the claim had reached its limitation period. “All actions against the municipality, such as the city, must be commenced within six months after the cause of action arose,” VicPD lawyer Erik Grobler wrote. “The Claimant has failed to do so.”

Capital Daily reached out to Grobler but did not hear back in time for publication.

FOI suggests more similar incidents

The TC used FOI information obtained from Stephen Harrison, a Victoria resident who keeps tabs on police accountability at ­needsmorespikes.com.

“I would hope at a minimum that some people are surprised to learn that this is what VicPD is choosing to do and putting people at risk for,” Harrison tells Capital Daily.

According to that information, officers used their cruisers as weapons, including in 2017 when an officer saw a cyclist not wearing a helmet and made a “sharp and sudden turn” in front of the cyclist, who then crashed into the side of the police car. 

A report by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) said the officer “drove recklessly,” forcing oncoming vehicles to swerve to not collide with the cruiser.

The OPCC said not wearing a helmet was not a valid reason to justify the officer’s tactics.

Harrison cites a series of similar actions, including in December 2018, when according to FOI documents, an officer used a police cruiser to pin a person against a flower planter.

In pursuit of suspects in a pepper-spraying incident, an officer detained a group of people while another officer drove toward a person on a sidewalk. The officer hollered at the person to stop and then positioned the front of the car to block his path. The officer then trapped the man who said the maneuver injured his leg. 

Other officer responses include opening a car door on people and cutting off people riding bikes or scooters so they slam into the police vehicle. 

BC Civil Liberties not impressed

The TC quotes a BC Civil Liberties Association spokesperson who calls the incidents concerning.

“I hope this doesn’t become a bigger pattern. It should be stopped,” Ga Grant told the Times Colonist. Police can legally use such force when it’s necessary and proportionate to a situation, Grant said.

“There’s no significant threat to police and to the public from a minor traffic violation by a pedestrian or a cyclist, so the dangers of hitting a pedestrian or a cyclist with a police car is disproportionate to the infraction,” she said.

Under VicPD policy, using a vehicle against a person is considered an “intermediate use of force” and is rarely used by VicPD officers, the force said in a statement to the TC.

“I mean, this is pretty straightforward,” Harrison tells Capital Daily. “Whether you're a member of the public or a member of VicPD, you don't get to hit somebody with your car.”

Related News

VicPD officers use dangerous driving tactics: reports
Stay connected to your city with the Capital Daily newsletter.
By filling out the form above, you agree to receive emails from Capital Daily. You can unsubscribe at any time.