A Richmond man is calling into question policing methods following what turned out to be a false arrest by Delta Police in Tsawwassen earlier this week.
The man, who does not want to be identified due to the nature of his work, was travelling to South Delta from his workplace in Langley for a round of golf at Tsawwassen Springs on Monday morning (July 26).
While travelling along Highway 17, he says he was cut off by another driver.
He honked his horn in an attempt to avoid an accident, which he did.
He then made his way into Tsawwassen, stopping at a local coffee shop, a little after 8 a.m. He left a few minutes later, returned to his vehicle and pulled out of the parking lot when he saw several DPD vehicles approach. He stopped, pulled over and was then surrounded by officers at gunpoint.
“I rolled down my window and they ordered me out of the vehicle, ordered me to put up my hands and that I was under arrest,” he said. “They handcuffed me and told me that someone called in and I was under arrest for pointing a gun at them.”
He said his car was searched and no weapon was found.
“I was released and the officers asked me whether I had been involved in an incident on the road earlier in the morning. I said yes. I saw the car that cut me off follow me into Tsawwassen and at the time I didn’t think anything of it, but after what happened, I’m 99 per cent certain this was the person who made the call to police.”
He says the incident begs a lot of questions.
“The officers apologized and said it was a mistake and I was free to go, but now I just want to provoke questions when it comes to policing. How do they determine what is a credible threat? I understand they have to act on a gun incident, but if anyone can call in and then say something that didn’t happen…my rights were violated here.”
In late June a group of black teens from Calgary were pulled over and arrested by DPD following a complaint that a gun was pointed at them from a moving vehicle. The teens were later released from custody and offered an apology from officers when no weapon was found.
“I heard about this incident as well. I am of Asian descent. I don’t want to play the race card, but is this a racial hate thing on the part of these complaints?” he says. “My issue is with the policing system in terms of how they are trained and how they respond to these incidents. The bigger thing is why are there no consequences to the complainants? Why are there no charges against the person who falsely accused me and reported this?”
DPD Insp. Guy Leeson said the Delta Police Department takes all calls seriously, especially ones where public safety is potentially put at risk.
“In a case like this where there is a report of a person driving a vehicle in possession of what is believed to be a firearm, the DPD will respond immediately given the nature of the complaint,” said Leeson. “Given that a firearm was alleged, our officers take every precaution during the vehicle stop to ensure continued safety of the public, the police and the driver of the vehicle.”
Leeson said although the call was determined to be unfounded, the original complainant sincerely believed that they had observed what they believed to be a firearm in the possession of the driver who was stopped by police.
The complainant remained on the line with officers to ensure that the officers located the correct vehicle, said Leeson.
With regards to a possible charge (mischief complaint or false report) against the complainant, Leeson said it would require the police be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the original complainant intended to mislead police or cause harm to the complainant.
He added that this case does not meet this threshold as the complainant appears to sincerely believe they observed a firearm.“All reports to the Delta Police are thoroughly investigated; in a situation like this one where public safety is potentially at risk, police must act on the information, while taking steps to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and safely,” added Leeson. “It is regrettable and understandable that the complainant felt that he had been unnecessarily put through a stressful situation for a report that ultimately turned out to be unfounded; however, given the initial information that was reported, Delta Police officers had to react quickly to ensure continued public safety.”