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Police chief issues apology to judge after wrongful detainment

"Police officers are human beings, we make mistakes."
Chief Constable Adam Palmer apologized to retired B.C. Supreme Court judge Selwyn Romilly, who was wrongfully detained Friday in Vancouver.

Vancouver Police Department Chief Constable Adam Palmer issued his own public apology to Justice Selwyn Romilly after Romilly's wrongful detention Friday, May 14.

"I want to publicly apologize to Mr. Romilly for his detention," Pamer said during a press conference Monday (May 17). "I know this would have been an unsettling and even traumatic experience for anybody to go through."

Romilly, the province's first Black appointee to the B.C. Supreme Court, was detained while out for a walk near Stanley Park. He was put in handcuffs after officers stopped him while searching for a "dark-skinned man" around 40 to 50 years old who had been kicking and punching people along the Seawall.

Romilly, who graduated from law school at UBC in 1966, is 81 years old.

Palmer said it was a mistake, calling it a dynamic urgent call as police had received several reports of a man assaulting people. He says the officer was going on information from the public and believed Romilly matched the description and location of the suspect. Palmer said the "actual suspect" was later arrested in the area.

"Police officers are human beings, we make mistakes," said Palmer. "We don't always get it right."

There are accountability measures for police, he noted. To that end, Mayor Kennedy Stewart has contacted the police board and says they will review the incident.

Palmer reached out to Romilly this weekend but didn't speak to him directly, leaving a voicemail with his phone number for the former judge. He added that he has spoken to the officer who detained Romilly, who has apologized as well.

He also told media the incident didn't change his belief systemic racism isn't present in policing.

-- with files from the Canadian Press.