Constable Ismail Bhabha from the Vancouver Police Department received sentencing yesterday after being found guilty of assault in August 2015 for punching a handcuffed cyclist in the face in downtown Vancouver back in 2013.
After attending court in Surrey yesterday, a judge gave Bhabha a conditional discharge, meaning he will face no criminal record as long as he abides by the court’s conditions. The officer was sentenced to six months on parole and will need to pay a victim surcharge of just $100. He will also get to keep his job at the Vancouver Police Department.
Charges against Const. Bhabha were first sworn in the provincial court in Vancouver on September 13th, 2013. He was found guilty of assault in August this year.
The incident was originally captured by clubZone CEO Mike Schwarz, and can be seen below in full:
The video shows Bhabha punching cyclist Andishae Akhavan in the face after pulling him over for running red lights and riding his bike through downtown Vancouver without a helmet.
Reactions to the court’s decision have been mixed. Vancouver police Chief Const. Adam Palmer has defended Bhabha, saying the officer should be judged on the totality of his record and NOT by the actions of one single moment.
However, Josh Paterson from the BC Civil Liberties Association has raised concerns about the little consequences faced by Bhabha.
“Why is it that an officer who has assaulted someone while they’re on duty gets to seemingly just retain their job?” Paterson said in an interview with CTV Vancouver.
“We have real concerns when someone in the position of this individual, who had restrained someone who wasn’t resisting, just decides to punch them in the head.”
clubZone CEO Mike Schwarz, who captured the incident on camera back in 2013, believes the sentencing seems “a bit light” and doesn’t do enough to hold the police force accountable for their actions.
“This doesn’t really send a strong message to other officers in the future or anything. Let me ask you a question; if you had an existing criminal record for assault, would you even be allowed to apply to become a police officer?” he said.
Bhabha’s sentencing has also sparked plenty of discussion online. A post by the CB regarding this story has received numerous responses from online readers:
What are your thoughts? Do you believe Bhabha’s sentence is fair? Do you think a police officer convicted of assault WHILE ON DUTY should be allowed to keep his job? Let us know in the comments below.