A Vancouver man says an incident he witnessed in the Downtown Eastside last fall is far from an anomaly — and that's why he made sure he caught the altercation on camera.
But he wasn't expecting the video to get taken off social media so quickly.
Tyler Nielsen, 35, met Vancouver Is Awesome outside of the Grand Union Pub for an interview on a cloudy Sunday (Aug. 8). It was here that the Vancouverite filmed a Vancouver Police officer push a man to the ground.
On the day of the incident, Nielsen was on his way to work at the overdose prevention site. He noticed six to eight Vancouver Police officers surrounding an elderly woman and his instinct was to stop.
"A lot of the time I've seen these police interactions end up with somebody hurt," he said. "This is not an isolated incident."
Nielsen added that the man who was shoved to the ground was mostly just standing around. "At no time did I see him display any aggressive behaviour whatsoever."
While he was filming, he commented, "I got that on video. That's [expletive] bad he didn't do [expletive]." The officers then told him that the phone was "evidence" and they needed to take it.
He told them to "back off."
Vancouver Police Cst. Tania Visintin told V.I.A. in a previous interview that police were looking for a "man who had called police advising he was suicidal."
The officers couldn't locate the man at first but saw paramedics with an intoxicated female, she explained. They were going to transport the intoxicated woman home in the police wagon as Safe Ride was not available.
"The man in the video expressed concerns and thought police were bringing her to jail. The officers had asked him to get back multiple times but he refused," she said.
Officers then learnt the man they were dealing with was the man who was stating he was suicidal, added Visintin.
Nielsen said he finds it "extremely disturbing" that officers were attending the area on a mental health call. "He did smack his head pretty bad at the time."
The video Nielsen shared of the incident was taken off of social media repeatedly when he first shared it in the fall of 2020. Back then, the incident was investigated by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner for British Columbia (OPCC) and was concluded as "unsubstantiated."
Recently, Nielsen's friend shared the video on TikTok. He credits her substantial following as the reason why the video was able to spread fast enough not to be removed.
When asked why the officers asked Nielsen to hand over his phone, Vistinin told V.I.A. that the VPD could not comment as the OPCC is conducting another investigation.
Here is the first video of the incident.
Here is the second video of the incident.