Selwyn Romilly said he was walking in Stanley Park on Friday when two police vehicles pulled up nearby and about five officers approached him. He said all five appeared to be white and were significantly taller than his five feet and eight inches. “They said they had received a complaint about someone who matched my description, and before I could say anything they told me to put my hands behind my back and they put me in chains. in handcuffs, ”he told CBC News.
“I have no weapon, I have nothing in my hand or in my person. And there you are – at 9.45 am, near Third Beach where you have a lot of people – you have a black man… chained with handcuffs and passers-by. I found this very embarrassing. ”
He said he told police he was a retired judge and released him from handcuffs after about a minute.
Romilly, who was born in Trinidad, was the first black judge appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. He was also the fourth black student to attend the University of British Columbia Law School, according to the university.
“You would think we are past this stage in Canada,” he said of the arrest.
Vancouver Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison said in an email that officers were responding to multiple 911 calls about a man assaulting strangers on the sea wall near English Bay.
The suspect was said to be walking normally, but suddenly he started kicking, punching and spitting at people.
“Officers observed a man who looked like the suspect’s description and briefly detained him for investigation. Given the violent nature of the incident, the man was handcuffed, ”Addison wrote.
However, Addison confirmed that the description given for the suspect was “a dark-skinned man, aged 40 to 50, wearing a red top.”
He described Romilly as compliant and said the handcuffs were quickly removed when it became clear he was not the suspect.
Addison said officers located the correct suspect in the same neighborhood at the time and the man was taken to jail. A patrol supervisor then called Romilly to apologize and explain.
Romilly said two senior officers have asked for an apology and he has no plans to press charges.
But he still hopes the police department will make changes.
“They have to be very vigilant when training young white police officers to deal with minorities,” Romilly said.
“I hate to say this is a case where I was targeted because I was walking while Black, but you kind of wonder why these handcuffs were placed on me at such an early stage.