A video of a dramatic takedown posted to Twitter has a grassroots advocacy group calling out the Vancouver Police Department.
Around 2:15 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 24) Vancouver police arrested a man in Chinatown, deploying a bean bag gun and canine unit in the process.
VANDU, an organization of current and former drug users that operates in the Downtown Eastside performing harm reduction initiatives, posted a video of the arrest, stating: "Constables fired multiple beanbag rounds at the man and sicced a canine on him once incapacitated." The group added they had the permission from loved ones of the man being arrested to post the video, calling him the "victim" of the incident.
In a Twitter thread, they allege that the man was unarmed and complied with officers before being shot four times with the bean bag gun (once when he was on the ground) and "viciously attacked" by the dog.
"He told constables 'I need to breathe,' and begged to be taken to hospital," reads one tweet. The thread also reports officers kneeling on the man for 10 minutes and accuses a constable of saying "Why don’t you talk to the Premier?" when bystanders asked police to call an ambulance, however, that moment was not included in the video.
The Vancouver Police Department responded on Twitter.
"The man in this video is a high-risk and violent offender with a history of armed robberies, assaulting police, and drug trafficking. He is involved in the Downtown Eastside’s illicit drug trade and, based on his violent history, is considered armed and dangerous," tweeted police.
Sgt. Steve Addison told V.I.A. he cannot name the individual until he is formally charged and would not provide any more information than what was already posted by the VPD on Twitter.
According to officers, the individual arrested was first convicted for robbery 10 years ago in Toronto and has since had 17 more criminal offence convictions with the most recent being in May for assault causing bodily harm. He served jail time.
Back in March 2021, VPD attempted to arrest him for breaching bail but he allegedly assaulted an officer and escaped through the front doors of VANDU, locking them behind him and fleeing out the back.
Yesterday's arrest occurred because patrol officers in the Downtown Eastside happened to spot him near the entrance to VANDU on East Hastings Street.
"The officers were familiar with him and had been looking for him so they could arrest him for an unrelated crime," says the VPD. "When the officers began to approach, he got into a taxi, ordered the cabbie to drive, and allegedly threatened to kill him if he stopped. Our officers followed the taxi and forced it to a stop near Gore and Keefer streets in Chinatown. Once stopped, the cab driver fled to safety."
Police say that the suspect did not comply with commands and he can be heard in the video challenging them to shoot him. When the bean bag rounds were deployed the gathered crowd begins to shout expletives at the police who claim they "had minimal impact on the suspect, who stands 6’3” and weighs about 300 pounds. He fell to the ground, but chose to continue resisting arrest and disobeying our directions," which is when they also released the dog.
The suspect has been treated for injuries sustained during the incident and now faces multiple new charges.
The video has almost 100,000 views and the public response has been extremely divided. Previously, a man died as a result of a VPD bean bag gun deployment in a case that is now under investigation by the IIO.