Asian-Canadian community outraged over Yao Wei Wu case
Sometime during the night of January 21, 2010, two undercover police officers responded to a call of domestic violence on the corner of Knight Street and 49th Avenue.
The next morning, 44 year-old resident Yao Wei Wu had his eyes swollen shut, blood on the front steps of his home, and bruises on his neck and back.
What happened in between was the job of the Delta Police, commissioned to do a separate—but I dare not claim independent— investigation that lasted over nine months.
Immediately, the police were revealed to be careless at best and completely broken at worst. They went to the wrong house, not the one where a real domestic dispute was presumably happening, flashed their badges and arrested a middle-aged, confused man who spoke no English.
On Thursday, the two officers alleged to have assaulted Wu were cleared of misconduct charges, with Cessford writing that Wu was aggressive in defending his house and disobeyed police orders. The investigation concluded that the constables were “acting in good faith” and that their use of force was “reasonable under the circumstances.”
Contrast this with VPD chief Jim Chu’s statement and apology back in January that Wu had not been resisting arrest.
The Asian community is understandably in a rage over this decision, which they believe is nepotistic, corrupt, and yet another slap in the face to an innocent man who should not have been roused from his bed in the first place.
But I can’t understand why they’re surprised.
If you were pulled over for speeding without having been clocked on a radar gun and wanted to dispute the ticket, you’ve got a classic case of two opposing testimonies. And the judge will rule in the policeman’s favour every time—he’s the guy with the badge, the training, and the experience to know when you’re speeding, right?
This case is no different. If Constables Florkow and London wanted to keep their jobs, they would be unshakeable in their assertion that Mr. Wu behaved in a manner that called for self-defence.
On the other hand, you have a man who claims that he was a victim of a premeditated assault, having been pulled outside his house and beat the moment he opened his door.
The probable reality is that neither testimony is entirely true. If the police had been in uniform, Mr. Wu would probably have understood that he needed to submit. But if I was woken up at 2 a.m. and opened the door to find two guys in t-shirts, with or without their badges, barking at me in a foreign language, I’m slamming the door shut!
That is not to say that the police were entirely incorrect, either. In responding to a case of domestic violence, it is very plausible that a violent offender would need to be forcibly extracted from his/her home.
The question is whether or not the degree of force shown by the VPD in this instance was justified, which in itself is a judgment call. Rightly or wrongly, the Delta Police were all but obliged to side with their counterparts in Vancouver.
This perceived lack of impartiality, in truth, is the source of the anger this weekend that has manifested itself in both Chinese radio and print media. History has shown that a police investigation of other police inevitably leads to a conclusion that lacks credibility.
This case is proof that the time for civilian investigations into police actions is long overdue.
Regrettably, that is the only conclusion we can take out of Mr. Wu's unfortunate story.