An off-duty Vancouver police officer who threatened a Coquitlam store owner won’t receive any jail time, and will instead receive a suspended sentence in connection with the incident.
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The decision was handed down this week in BC Provincial Court, and stems from an incident on January 6, 2018, in which the officer, Const. Deepak Kumar Sood “uttered threats to cause death or bodily harm” to Gert Knudsen, according to court documents.
Records show that in November of 2017, Sood “purchased a number of items of furniture from a furniture retailer (‘M&M’) of which Mr. Knudsen is the principal.”
One of those items was a dresser for his son, who was four-years-old at the time.
“Due to a misunderstanding between Sood and M&M as to whose responsibility it was to anchor the dresser to an adjacent wall to stabilize it and safeguard it against tipping, no anchoring mechanism was installed at the time of delivery,” court documents state.
And it was on January 6, when the dresser – with all six of its drawers having been pulled open – tipped forward at a 45-degree angle and one of the drawers landed on the foot of Sood’s son, “in effect pinning him in place and causing him great upset (though no serious harm),” the documents said.
After freeing his son, Sood then contacted M&M by phone, “insisting that it send one of its delivery trucks to his home that day (a Saturday) to take the dresser back to the store.”
However, Sood was told that the soonest that task could be completed was the following Monday.
Frustrated with this response, Sood’s language with M&M, “degenerated into a loud and angry fusillade of profanities and intensifying demands.”
Over the course of a tirade that “went on for a period of hours, Sood threatened to bring the dresser back down to the M&M store and throw it through its front window. He also threatened to ‘bash [Mr. Knudsen’s] f**king head in.'”
Documents state that when Knudsen told Sood that he would have to call the police if such threats were to continue, Sood replied by identifying himself as a policeman, and stated “Don’t bother, I am the f**king police.”
Records show that Knudsen prepared a victim impact statement as a result of this incident, in which he “makes reference to the genuine fear he had for himself and his staff, given that Mr. Sood’s threats ‘seemed credible and very real.’”
Sood was found guilty last month of making threats to cause bodily harm.
In his decision, Provincial Court Judge Thomas Woods said that by Sood making these remarks, he “brought the full weight of his special powers and authority as a police officer into the equation.”
Further, said Woods, Sood “actively misused those powers and that authority.”
“Many opportunities” to stand back
During the incident, “there were many opportunities over this extended transaction for Mr. Sood to stand back, catch his breath, calm himself, and change course,” the judge wrote in his decision. “But he did not do so. Rather, he continued and indeed escalated his single-minded and destructive pattern of intimidation in a determined and resolute effort to realize his objective.”
And in Woods’ view, “the planning and premeditation that is writ large on the face of that calculated and lengthy course of deplorable conduct on Mr. Sood’s part can justly be treated, for sentencing purposes, as an aggravating factor.”
In his view, the judge furthered, Sood “invoked his status as a police officer for entirely improper and collateral purposes—in his case to vindicate what he believed was his private right in a consumer dispute.”
Woods wrote in his sentencing that since the day of the incident, “Sood has been introspecting deeply….and taking careful stock of his conduct on that day. I also understand that he has done at least some investigation into resources that might assist him in maintaining better control of his temper at times of stress and upset.”
However, the judge added, “he has yet to take any concrete steps in that direction.”
Instead, he said that as he far as he understands, Sood “is waiting to see what is made available to him pursuant to a counselling provision in the probation order that will eventually be made against him.”
Woods noted though, that Sood “expresses an intention to take the full benefit of that counselling in his efforts then to move on past the unhappy events of January 6, 2018, once the sentencing process has run its course.”
As part of his sentence, Sood is now barred from any contact with Knudsen or his employees, and can’t go within 100 metres of the business or Knudsen’s home for the next 12 months. He will also have to serve 30 hours of community service and provide his probation officer with his residential address and telephone number and not change either without first obtaining the written consent of the officer.
The judge also noted in his decision that Sood came before the court with “no criminal record,” and an “unblemished workplace record as a member of the Vancouver Police Department.”