A Vancouver police officer is facing an assault charge following an investigation by West Vancouver police into an incident involving a cyclist being punched while being placed under arrest.
The incident sparked a social media outcry in March after video surfaced online of Const. Ismail Bhabha punching cyclist Kharazi Andisheh Akhavan. The video shows Bhabha winding up and hitting Akhavan in face in response to the man moving his arm while Bhabha tried to cuff him. Bhabha later tells him it was because he was “resisting.’
Akhavan was detained by Bhabha after allegedly running a red light on his bicycle while riding without a helmet.
The province’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner ordered the investigation after being made aware of the video via the media. West Van police investigated the incident for several months before recommending the assault charge. Crown counsel approved the charge late Thursday.
While the criminal investigation has concluded, Bhabha will still be subject to an investigation under the Police Act into his conduct as an officer. If he is found by the OPCC to have committed a misconduct, he could face further reprimand by Vancouver Police Chief Const. Jim Chu. That investigation, however, is on hold pending an outcome from the criminal proceedings.
“It looks like West Vancouver did a very thorough investigation,” said Rollie Woods, deputy police complaint commissioner, “The fruits of the criminal investigation will be used by the Police Act investigation.”
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