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No public hearing into arrest of Indigenous man, granddaughter at Vancouver bank

Review of an earlier disciplinary decision upholds its conclusions
Maxwell Johnson, a Heiltsuk First Nation member who was arrested alongside his granddaughter as they were trying to open an account at the Bank of Montreal, sings and drums outside the bank’s main branch before a news conference in Vancouver, on May 5, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A review by British Columbia’s police complaint commissioner has determined a public hearing is not required into the arrest and handcuffing of an Indigenous man and his granddaughter at a bank in downtown Vancouver.

A statement from the commissioner’s office says Clayton Pecknold’s review of an earlier disciplinary decision upholds its finding that two Vancouver police officers committed misconduct in arresting Maxwell Johnson and his young granddaughter.

Pecknold has also determined a public hearing or review on the record would not be in the public interest.

The disciplinary decision said the officers acted “recklessly” and used unnecessary force while it imposed a three-day suspension for one officer, a two-day suspension on the other, and ordered both to take remedial training and send written apologies to the victims.

Pecknold confirms the apologies have been sent.

Johnson and his granddaughter were arrested in December 2019 as they used what staff at the main Vancouver branch of the Bank of Montreal alleged was a fake status card to open an account.

Pecknold’s review says the disciplinary decision imposed by a retired judge “correctly characterized” that because of the actions of the officers, “two vulnerable persons of Indigenous heritage were exposed to unnecessary trauma and fear, and left with a serious perception of unfairness in their treatment at the hands of police.”

The complaint commissioner’s review says the Vancouver Police Board is still considering a separate but related complaint concerning Vancouver Police Department policies related to handcuffing.

Depending on that outcome, Pecknold says he may make further recommendations to the department or Solicitor General’s Ministry about training or policies.

—The Canadian Press

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