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Inquiry clears officer who kicked men

Dec 08 2011

A Police Act investigation has found no wrongdoing on the part of the Victoria police officer captured on video kicking two men.

A report by New Westminster police Chief David Jones, released Wednesday, found Const. Chris Bowser did not abuse his authority by kicking 24-year-old Harpinder Kang and 20-year-old Tyler Archer, who were both on the ground at the time following a drunken brawl outside a downtown nightclub on March 21, 2010.

A 57-second video of the incident that was posted on YouTube sparked widespread criticism of the officer delivering powerful kicks to Archer's side while another officer, Const. Brendan Robinson, tried to handcuff him.

Jones also found Robinson did nothing wrong in trying to restrain Archer.

Jones scrutinized the video, read the statements of the officers involved and witness officers to come to his decision. He said Kang and Archer were uncooperative in providing statements on their version of events.

"It is clear that both of these members have described the scenario and their actions consistent to what has been captured on the available video footage," he said.

"Both members have described that Mr. Archer was attempting to crawl away, and that he had clenched his fists and arms in a restraining manner, requiring officers to escalate their levels of force in order to bring Mr. Archer under control."

Jones released his decision to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner Nov. 29. But the office only released it publicly Wednesday. The police complaint commissioner will review the decision. If the commissioner disagrees with the finding, he can order a review on the record or call a public hearing.

In February, Crown counsel announced they would not press criminal charges because Bowser did not use excessive force.

The criminal investigation was led by the Vancouver Police Department.

Bowser, who has been with the department for nine years, has returned to regular duties.

Richard Neary, the lawyer representing Kang and Archer, said the fact that the Police Act investigation took two years to complete speaks to its ineffectiveness.

"It speaks to how convoluted the process is and how little it accomplished," he said.

Had the new civilian-led police oversight body been up and running when the incident happened, the outcome might have been very different, Neary said.

Archer and Kang are continuing with their civil suit against the Victoria Police Department, Neary said.

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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