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Vancouver Police Union reacts to video of man being punched

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Vancouver’s police union says officers can’t take a chance when someone resists arrests. This is in response to a YouTube video of a man being punched in the face during an arrest in Downtown Vancouver on Tuesday night.

The officer who threw the punch has been pulled from duty.

Tom Stamatakis with the Vancouver Police Union says there’s more to the story than what the video shows.

In the footage, an officer is seen punching cyclist Andi Shae Akhavan as he tries to put handcuffs on him. According to Akhavan, the officers were originally going to write him a ticket for running a red light. The incident happened at Beatty and Robson.

Akhavan is filing a complaint against the VPD, claiming excessive force was used.

“With both my arms behind me and from behind, he basically clocks me in the mouth, at which point I basically felt my tooth go through my lip, and I could feel the blood right away. I was like ‘I need stitches.’ They sat me down and the video basically shows the rest of what happened,” describes Akhavan.

Stamatakis says officers are trained in what to do when someone resists arrest. “You can hear the officers giving the individual direction not to resist — to comply. They’re in the process of handcuffing him. You can see in the video, he pulls away.”

“What I saw was two police officers responding to something that they saw… trying to gain control of a person who was resisting their efforts,” he tells us.

“These officers would have no idea who this individual is, what his background is. They need to get him under control. That’s their training. It doesn’t always look great on video, but that’s the training,” explains Stamatakis.

“Unfortunately, in this city and across the province and the country, there have been many officers who have been seriously injured by people who are actively resisting arrest or trying to get away,” he adds, noting officers must take control of potentially dangerous situations.

Meanwhile, Micheal Vonn with the BC Civil Liberties Association finds the video alarming. “We’re asking the question, ‘What is the basis for the arrest in the first place?’ That’s a fair question to ask.”

“It does look alarmingly like excessive use of force,” she admits. “That said, we haven’t done the investigation yet.”

Police Professional Standards is looking into the officer, while Crown Counsel will have to decide whether the cyclist will be charged.

The officer is on a weekly leave.