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VPD officers face new review after Indigenous man, granddaughter handcuffed at BMO in 2019

Last Updated Jul 9, 2021 at 10:30 am PDT

Maxwell Johnson and his 12-year-old granddaughter are handcuffed by police outside a Bank of Montreal branch in downtown Vancouver on Dec. 20, 2019. (Courtesy Union of BC Indian Chiefs)

Review of VPD officers will be conducted by a retired provincial court judge

Office of the Public Complaint Commissioner says a previous investigation came to an 'incorrect' decision

Indigenous man, granddaughter were handcuffed outside a BMO branch in 2019 in case that's been widely criticized

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The actions of two police officers involved in the handcuffing of an Indigenous man and his 12-year-old granddaughter at a Vancouver BMO branch in 2019 will be subject to another review — this time conducted by a retired provincial court judge.

The Office of the Public Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) has appointed Brian Neal to undertake an independent assessment.

The commissioner’s office says a previous investigation, done by Victoria Police Chief Constable Del Manak, came to an “incorrect” decision.

Related video: Video of Indigenous man and granddaughter’s arrest released

The OPCC notes Neal’s disciplinary process could include a discipline proceeding, in which case he can decide whether misconduct occurred, and if so, what corrective measures must be taken.

Maxwell Johnson, a member of the Heiltsuk First Nation, and his granddaughter were handcuffed on the street outside the bank on Dec. 20, 2019, after staff called police when they suspected documents presented by Johnson were fraudulent.

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After handcuffing the pair, the attending officers “confirmed the validity of the cards” through speaking with the justice coordinator of the Heiltsuk Nation.

“Despite the suspicious circumstances, PCs determined that no criminal offence occurred and the cards likely presented as fraudulent due to clerical errors from Indian Affairs,” the police report from the incident reads.

In November of last year, Johnson filed a human rights complaint, naming BMO and the VPD, saying he was doing so “to seek justice for our family, our community, and First Nations, and so that other people of colour can feel safe.”

“Human rights tribunals need to hold institutions accountable for systemic racism,” he previously said. “Visible minorities are under constant threat of racial profiling by organizations, and discrimination by police.”

-With files from Nikitha Martins and Martin MacMahon