VANCOUVER – An Indo-Canadian police officer with the Vancouver Police Department, who was caught on video punching a cyclist in the face, has been found guilty of his actions during an arrest two years ago.
The LINK was the first media outlet in March 2013 to identify the VPD cop Ismail Bhabha as a turbaned Sikh who migrated from England some years ago after he married a Canadian woman who sponsored him and helped him in quest to join the VPD in our story “Officer Caught On Camera Throwing Punch In VPD Police Brutality Video Is An Indo-Canadian.”
An investigation was launched into Const. Bhabha’s conduct after a YouTube video surfaced of the officer striking a man he was attempting to handcuff in March 2013.
In the video – Bhabha, who is now divorced from the woman who sponsored him, can be clearly heard speaking in an English accent.
Bhabha maintained he was trying to arrest the cyclist because he blew through a red light in Yaletown and wasn’t wearing a helmet.
Following outrage over the alleged VPD brutality after a video of the incident surfaced on the Internet, West Vancouver Police conducted the investigation involving Bhabha.
The footage shows Bhabha punching a cyclist he was attempting to handcuff during an arrest.
The officers involved said they were trying to arrest a man because he rode his bicycle through a red light and wasn’t wearing a helmet, reported CTV news.
The Office of the Police Complaints Commission ordered the West Vancouver police to investigate the allegations.
The Crown approved the recommendation of the single charge of assault in September 2013 and the charge was sworn against Bhabha in Vancouver provincial court on Friday.
During last year’s trial, the cyclist, Andishae Akhavan-Kharazi, told Vancouver provincial court he said it was “bulls***” that officers were giving him a ticket, reported CTV news.
He testified that when his arm was twisted behind his back, he turned his head and was punched, leaving him with a chipped tooth, a cut lip and injuries to his neck and jaw.
The confrontation was filmed by a bystander, and the footage sparked outrage on YouTube.
It appears to show Bhabha striking the cyclist, who asks “Why did you punch me?”
“Because you was resisting,” Bhabha replies. “I was trying to put my cuffs on you and you pulled your arm away.”
“I asked is there better things to be doing than giving tickets,” Akhavan said. “I might have used some words I wouldn’t use on TV, but it was in a completely civil manner.”
The officers decided to place him under arrest, at which point Akhavan’s friend Mike Schwarz recognized him from the street and ran over to film the exchange.
The footage, which was later posted to YouTube, shows Bhabha and his partner holding Akhavan’s arms behind his back and putting one of his hands in handcuffs.
When he starts to move his arms, Bhabha strikes him in the jaw.
“Relax your arm!” the officer commands.
Moments later, as Akhavan sits on the curb, he asks why he was punched.
“Because you was resisting,” Bhabha answers. “I was trying to put handcuffs on you and you pulled your arm away.”
Police also describe Akhavan’s behaviour as “confrontational” before his arrest. He was released on a promise to appear pending charge approval.
Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services treated Akhavan for a cut lip at the scene, but the victim said he sought additional care at a hospital afterward.
Akhavan said at the time that he was considering his options, but he wants police to suspend the officer, fire him or at least “make sure he doesn’t punch people in the face anymore when it’s not necessary.”
A spokesperson for the Vancouver police said Const. Bhabha will remain in his current position in patrol until the court proceedings are completed.
Newly installed Vancouver police chief Adam Palmer also defended Bhabha and said he is a very good police officer who has a great track record of service not only in Vancouver but for Bhabha’s police work in his native England.
“He’s a good police officer,” Palmer said of Ismail Bhabha. “And, just recently, he saved somebody’s life.”
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for November.