VPD face investigation after arrest of Indigenous girl, grandfather at BMO

Jan 14 2020, 4:18 pm

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) has called for an official investigation into the arrest of an Indigenous man and his 12-year-old granddaughter while trying to open a bank account at a Vancouver BMO last month.

In a release, the OPCC says it “became aware of the matter through media reporting and complaints from the public.”

The OPCC requested information from the Vancouver Police Department regarding the incident and as a result has agreed that an investigation into the matter is needed.

The investigation will examine if any other potential or attempted misconduct may have taken place and if any VPD or Vancouver Police Board policies, procedures, or training could have been a factor in the incident.

The OPCC has ordered the Delta Police Department to conduct the independent investigation.

“It is important that there be a thorough and independent investigation of this matter. The investigation will carefully examine and assess the circumstances of this incident including the legal authority to detain, arrest, and use restraining devices such as handcuffs as well as any relevant questions of policy or training,” said Andrea Spindler, Deputy Police Complaint Commissioner, in a statement.

On December 20, Heiltsuk Nation member Maxwell Johnson went to the BMO branch on Burrard Street to open a bank account for his granddaughter. Bank staff suspected the pair of fraud and called the police.

Officers arrested Johnson and the girl, placing both of them in handcuffs. After gathering more information, officers determined no fraud had occurred and released the pair, Vancouver Police Department Sgt. Aaron Roed told Daily Hive.

BMO has apologized about what happened.

On Monday, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart released a statement, saying he’s doing a full review of the police policies and procedures that led to this outcome.

“I find it unacceptable that the Bank of Montreal turned what should have been a positive occasion into one that reinforces our colonial past,” Stewart said. “I am sad for the long-term impacts this may have on the child, her family, and the broader community.”

-With files from Megan Devlin.