It should have been a routine traffic stop on the Granville Strip, not unlike hundreds that police respond to every week across the city.
Instead, three men in their 20s are in custody facing multiple charges and a Vancouver police officer is off the job indefinitely after being punched repeatedly in the head and face.
Video from the incident has been posted to YouTube and can be seen below.
The incident began shortly before 10 p.m. on Oct. 9 when two plainclothes officers pulled over a Dodge Durango with three passengers driving through a restricted area of Granville. The Vancouver Police Department noted in an Oct. 10 press conference that the vehicle had an N designation, which would restrict the driver to being the lone occupant.
The suspects appeared confrontational from the word go, refusing police direction, according to police. Police also said one of the accused intentionally lit a cigarette and blew the smoke in the officer’s face, while another began reaching under a seat.
“To me, that’s confrontational, that’s disrespectful, and that caused a lot of what happened here,” VPD St. Jason Robillard told reporters Wednesday morning. “This is the attitude of the three occupants our officers were dealing with and it escalated quite quickly.”
It was at this point that things went completely off the rails. The VPD said one of the officers was pulled into the vehicle and all three men allegedly punched him repeatedly in the face and head.
From there, one of the suspects attempted to flee on foot, ran through a red light at the intersection of Robson and Seymour streets and was hit by a vehicle. Seemingly uninjured, the suspect continued to flee and was later caught a few blocks down the road.
As this was happening, backup officers converged back on Granville Street and arrested all three men who are in their early 20s and “well known to police and have a history with police.”
Charges including assault causing bodily harm, assault against a police officer, theft and obstruction, are pending. Other charges related to alcohol and drugs seized from the vehicle may also be laid. Two of the accused are from West Vancouver, while the third individual is from Victoria. Robillard wouldn’t indicate if any of the three accused have ties to organized crime.
The injured officer has since been released from hospital. Robillard described his injuries as “substantial,” though he couldn’t give any indication as to when the officer will return to work.
“We deal with hundreds of these traffic stops weekly. This one, unfortunately, turned ugly and turned assaultive to our officers,” Robillard said. “And in this case, they were defending themselves.”