WEST Vancouver police officers are investigating whether a Vancouver Police Department member was abusing his authority when he punched a suspect during an arrest, and whether he should he should face criminal charges for it.
The incident sparked outcry after a video of Const. Ismail Bhabha punching cyclist Kharazi Andisheh Akhavan in the face while attempting to handcuff him spread around social media on March 27.
The punch came in response to Akhavan moving his arm as Bhabha tried to put the cuffs on. Bhabha later justified it claiming Akhavan was resisting arrest.
Akhavan was detained by Bhabha after allegedly running a red light on his bicycle while riding without a helmet.
The provinces Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner ordered the investigation after being made aware of the video via the media.
I have reviewed the information contained in the video and the information received from the VPD information system and I am of the opinion that the conduct alleged against Const. Ismail Bhabha, if substantiated, would constitute misconduct, specifically abuse of authority . . . commissioner Stan Low said in a letter to West Vancouver Chief Const. Peter Lepine, VPD Chief Const. Jim Chu and the officer involved.
If the West Vancouver investigation concludes Bhabha was in the wrong, he will face discipline under the Police Act.
VPD, meanwhile, has asked West Vancouver to conduct a separate criminal investigation into the matter. WVPD may recommend charges to the Crown if there is a likelihood of conviction.
There is no timeline for either investigation, but both will be handled swiftly, according to a statement from Lepine published on WVPDs website.
This investigation is a top priority for my department, for Vancouver Police and for the community at large. The West Vancouver Police Department is committed to ensuring this investigation is thorough, complete and conducted in a timely manner. The department acknowledges all parties to this matter and the community at large are looking for a firm, timely and effective resolution to these investigations," Lepine said.
Under provincial legislation, police-involved investigations for the OPCC must be completed within six months.
West Vancouver is frequently called on to investigate other police forces when a member is being accused of wrongdoing.
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