A video taken by a motorist during a traffic stop shows a Vancouver Police Department officer smashing the driver’s window.
Posted to a blog called “VPD SERGEANT CHRISTIANSEN BADGE # 1363” is the single post “Unlawful Assault” which includes a video (loaded to YouTube with the user ID Bodhi Sattva) and a narrative of the incident, which took place November 6, 2014.
In the video the officer, identified by the motorist/blogger as “Sergeant Christiansen,” is heard ordering the driver to turn the car off and “Hit the brakes, you moron.” The motorist repeatedly asks why he is being pulled over, but the officer only continues to ask him to open the door.
“Open the door. I’m not playing this game. Your window is going to go in,” threatens the officer.
However, the motorist does not comply, and the officer then says the driver is “under arrest.” When pressed further for a reason for his being pulled over, the officer tells the driver he smelled marijuana coming from the car.
“No you do not,” counters the motorist. “You do not smell marijuana in my vehicle.”
The officers continues to threaten the motorist with breaking his window, and then finally smashes the glass. “You must think I’m fucking joking,” says the officer, as he places the driver under arrest.
The VPD acknowledge that the driver was “forcefully removed” from the vehicle after failing to comply with the officer’s numerous commands, and “the driver was not able to control his vehicle and placed the safety of the officer and the public at risk” during the traffic stop, according to the Vancouver Sun.
The unidentified motorist is described as a 24-year-old man from Richmond who was known to police. The traffic stop and subsequent arrest resulted in charges of “possession of cannabis over 30 grams, two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, and obstruction/willfully resisting arrest.”
According to the motorist, he was administered a road side examination and “was not found to be impaired or under the influence.”
There was, indeed, pot in the car, and the driver admits this in his blog post. The driver says he is “prescribed cannabis for medical purposes and was licensed under the MMAR” (Marijuana Medical Access Regulations), but did not “sign up” with them because “there was no way that [he] could afford to purchase [his] medicine at a ridiculous 400% increase in cost.”
The driver claims he is the victim of mistreatment at the hands of the VPD. “I was physically assaulted and it has left me emotionally traumatized. I do not feel safe anymore, I’m living in fear now,” he writes on the blog, adding: “What happened that night was a violation of my constitutional rights. I don’t deserve to be treated this way, no one ever does.”
The National Post says this is “an extremely disturbing video,” in an article called “Cops Run Amok.” More from the article:
What makes the video alarming is the police mindset it conveys: The sergeant’s words and actions all seem to betray a casual conviction that the person he has stopped should be expected do exactly what the sergeant wants exactly when he wants it, legal rights and even basic considerations of civility be damned. Don’t listen to a police officer and give him absolute deference? Then expect your property to be destroyed.
Chief Constable Jim Chu responded to the Post’s article Tuesday, noting that this “was not a traffic stop,” but rather a “drug arrest.”
Chu says the driver was pulled over after the officer noticed his “impaired driving” and that “marijuana smoke billowing from the car made the cause of that impairment obvious.”
Our officer acted proactively when he saw a car weaving that could at any minute strike another car or pedestrian causing injury or worse. The video shows that the driver was evasive and lying about not having drugs in the car. In fact, there was enough marijuana for Crown Counsel to accept a charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking. While it was necessary to use some force to extract the driver, it is also important to remember that no one was injured and no complaint was made.
Patrol officers know that every arrest they make and practically every move they make will be scrutinized, analyzed and occasionally criticized. Through it all they routinely prove that preserving life and public safety trumps whatever slings and arrows they may endure.
It would be ideal if force of any kind was never necessary to make an arrest. But for those who are trying desperately to avoid apprehension, it is not always the option they choose.