Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Did Police Refuse To Take Victim Statement From Man Who Was Allegedly Gay-Bashed?

October 12, 2010 

[Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada] The victim of an alleged gay bashing last week feels victimized all over again after police initially refused to hear him out. Thomas Pope, 21, said he was waiting for friends outside a McDonald's in downtown Vancouver during the early hours Friday when two males walked up to him and started yelling. "They said 'What are you looking at f-----?' and 'Are you waiting for your boyfriend?' I told them I wasn't doing anything, that I was just standing there," Pope said. The man tried to avoid confrontation with the two men in his face - who he believed to be drunk - but it didn't last long. "One of them grabbed me by the shirt and pulled it so hard it almost came off," Pope recalled. "He punched me in the face and I was getting beat up." His roommate called police and officers arrived on scene shortly thereafter. That's when the ordeal got "fun," Pope said sarcastically. "A woman officer put [the suspects] in handcuffs and said we were lucky we weren't cuffed," he claimed. "She said it was just a he-said-she-said incident and wouldn't take my statement. They were off the clock and we were lucky they even responded to the call." The victim, whose jaw is now swollen, later found out the suspects were released. Enraged that police "wouldn't do their job," Pope's father contacted the office of Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert. "They told me the officer didn't believe their story and wouldn't take a statement," he said. "I contacted the police and they got back on the case." Chandra Herbert said Vancouver police generally take these kinds of cases very seriously but bemoaned that Pope's case apparently wasn't taken seriously until he got involved. "It's troubling my office had to get involved."

Vancouver police spokesperson Const. Lindsey Houghton said the investigation into the incident was ongoing and witnesses and video surveillance had been obtained. No charges have been laid, but assault and hate crime investigators were involved. He had no information regarding misconduct on the part of responding officers, but encouraged Pope to file a complaint. Chandra Herbert said victims of gay bashings need to report incidents in the face of ongoing discrimination and assaults. "It's shocking that these continue, it's so disturbing," he said. "It keeps happening."
Source: The Toronto Sun