Megaphone magazine releases video of police assault

Post by Mike Klassen in


This security camera video shows VPD members in arrest of Ali Eltah Ishag

Not sure what to make of this one. The video supplied by our friends down at Megaphone magazine is potentially incriminating, and no doubt it will force a response from Mayor Robertson to have Chief Jim Chu hold an investigation. The video (which has an annoying audio tone, so turn down your computer speakers) shows Ali Eltah Ishag being visited by 2 VPD members on a Downtown Eastside street corner. They walk up to him calmly, and within 3 seconds one of the officers begins having, er, some serious knee spasms that force him to kick Ishag several times.

The reputed account of what happened is supplied by Megaphone's Sean Condon:

Video footage obtained and released by Megaphone shows two Vancouver police officers repeatedly kneeing and kicking a Downtown Eastside homeless man without provocation. The homeless man was then charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm the officer.

On the morning of Saturday, June 26, two officers approached Ali Eltah Ishag, a 47-year-old Sudanese refugee who is homeless, at the corner of Carrall and East Hastings outside the Megaphone office.

The video shows that after briefly speaking to Ishag, the officers grab his arms and immediately begin to knee and kick Ishag’s legs and mid-section. Ishag attempts to defend himself against the officers, who throw him against the wall and continue to knee him. The three then struggle as they move eastwards along Hastings.

In total, the two officers administer at least nine knee and leg kicks on Ishag in the video.

Read the full story about the arrest, Ishag and eyewitness accounts and the Vancouver police's response on the Megaphone blog.

What appears to be happening is that Ishag is not being responsive to the VPD member, although it's open to debate as to whether the swift timing of the take down was appropriate. It appears that Ishag has his hands in his pockets, which might have concealed something forcing the quicker response. Undoubtedly it will be analyzed by several parties.

I'm sure we'll be getting several versions of the events from lots of stakeholders, including what happened just prior and after the video in the days to come.

UPDATE: One of our commenters says Ishag had a prior for resisting arrest. We still need to confirm this.

UPDATE #2: The BC Civil Liberties Association has now filed a complaint against the VPD for what they describe as a "misleading" press release regarding the Ishag arrest.

- post by Mike


Excessive force?

SOP is to tell the guy to get down. This moron obviously refused a lawful police command.

So what you do is a jui-jitsu move and kick out his feet by a blow to the calf area.

Incriminating? Are you for real? Anyone who sees this from an objective, non-David Eby Point of View would see someone resisting the commands of a police officer. And even then, they are only using restraining force...hardly harmful or excessive.

Common sense, people!


Clearly the guy is resisting, all he has to do is stop fighting and the officers will take him down and stop struggling to control him.

Go on some ride alongs, everyone can, you'll see the crap officers have to deal with on a daily basis and this is nothing.

I agree with the other commentators. This guy is clearly resisting arrest and attempting to flee, and the police seem to be using very moderate and reasonable force to subdue him.

In a little more detail, Ali is using his arms to try to control the distance between himself and the officers, and moving sideways from a low base to try to get around them. The officers in turn are being kind enough not to escalate here; just keeping their grip on his arms and trying to work him to the ground by controlling his legs so that they can cuff him. Yes, they need to kick to do that.

It's hard to judge what really went down without the dialog. Maybe Ishag must have said something and perhaps he is a repeat offender. It didn't seem that bad - I thought if they had taken out the baton and gone for 'beat to pulp' style knock down it would be really bad.

Anyway it the video needs to be put into context.

What is the back story on this guy?
Does he have a history of Assault PC on his record?
Are the police following up a complaint of someone being stabbed?
The guy who poured his drink in the gutter and walked away didn't seem to have trouble with the VPD.
The guys working the DTES have enough to do without dealing random beatings
I say stop subscribing to megaphone

The problem is that Vancouver is going to waste money and resources in psychoanalyzing every frame in this video to try and create meaning and nuance where there is none. The context of what happened here is as clear as day! And yet this will be done all in the name of keeping the VPD "accountable".

Who holds those who intentionally make frivolous police complaints "accountable"?

more BS from the DTES poverty pimps... this guy was clearly resisting arrest and the police actions are justified. He has also been charged with assaulting a police officer before.

Have any of you actually looked at the video? It's perfectly clear that the violence is initiated by the two police officers. Certainly it's not a 'Dziekanski' level of aggression but nor is the homeless guy's reaction worthy of the accusation of assault.

Some of you may think we should live in a state where failiure to show instant subservience to police officers justifies the immediate application of force to compel compliance. A lot of us can see where that leads, and that goes for plenty of people outside your kneejerk list of human rights activists.

I don't underestimate the problems the VPD has dealing with social conditions in the DTES. However anyone who looks at the condition of policing in Canada should not underestimate the corrosive effect of the consistent failiure to hold police officers to a high standard and accountable for their actions.

If the day comes when we have a police force that acts like this to everyone and not just the marginalized you will have cause to regret your complacency.

David is right. Which video were the rest of you watching? The cop nearest to the camera kicks Ishag at :27. Ishag showed no signs of violence whatsoever prior to the cop's first kick. The cop gets a total of 5 kicks in before the end of the video. Maybe he was inspired by the World Cup?

At any rate, I'm sure Ishag is no choir boy, but more info is needed on this case to have a better idea as to exactly what went down. From the VPD perspective, it definitely could have been handled better than this.

David & John's attitudes are exactly what's fueling the frivolous litigation industry today. It's obvious in the video that he tried to flee from the two police officers. The officers took reasonable measures to subdue him. When police officers ask you to stop, you stop. Full stop.

This isn't about social issues in the DTES. This is about abuse of the judicial system by lawyers looking to make a buck. Period.

If you read the other sources, you'll learn that he has problems understanding/speaking English and is also mentally ill. Why is he just roaming the streets in the first place? Our immigration officials create these problems that the police are left to deal with.

What "frivolous litigation industry"? This is another straw man fantasy. The problem we have is the exact opposite, that it is virtually impossible for police officers to be held to account when they overstep the line.

I want a police force that maintains the law, not one that feels free to take it into its own hands. I know that there are plenty of good officers doing a sometimes thankless and difficult job. Unfortunately their efforts are too often overshadowed by the misbehaviour of individuals who appear to regard their increasingly paramiltary style uniforms and equipment as a license to indulge in behaviour that, were they civilians, would earn them a criminal record.

It has long been recognised by police recruiters that the force is very attractive to certain undesireable personality types, an important part of their job is to weed out applicants with these traits. Your permissive attitude to unnecessary violence, if it became the norm, could only take us further from the ideal of a police force that is part of the community and closer to one that is an unregulated instrument of control.

Maybe you find the latter attractive but I think most people would rather get back to the former.

Why don't you go to a FCUK store by yourself, and buy a T-Shirt with I 'Heart' Police Brutality written on the front?

Looks like BCCLA has filed a complaint against the VPD for their "misleading" press release describing the incident.

From the megaphone blog:
"He was wanted for outstanding warrants for mischief and threatening."

Sounds to me like one of those lovely 'wandering around aggressively demanding money from tourists is my job' guys.

The police response is overblown of course but this incident isn't bad at all compared to the innocent family they home invaded and terrorized this week, after getting a search warrant because a constable smelled pot in the area. It's Vancouver, the whole bloody city smells like pot.

Of course Chu immediately sent out the now full-time Apology Squad.

It's a shame the VPD seems so intent on destroying the positive reputation they built up during the Olympics when they acted like civilized adults.

I blame the practice of hiring young adrenaline-junkie cops. No one under 35 should be allowed to do anything other than desk work at the VPD.

@David Hadaway you do both the police and actual victims of police violence a disservice with your comments here.

I think most of us realize that incidents of excessive force happen; and probably much more often than publicized. We've certainly seen enough of it online and in the news over the past couple of years. The video provides no evidence that it happened here.

What would you have the police do to subdue a resisting person who has multiple warrants for assault in multiple provinces, including against police officers? Police officers are just fit people with some training. They aren't superhuman. Would you have them deploy a baton? How about a taser? How about letting him run away, then tackling him to the ground? How about letting him run away, and then actually failing to arrest him?

How do I do the police a disservice? By acknowledging that many, who I have met, are hardworking and dedicated doing a difficult job? By saying that I want a community based police force? By believing that officers who trangress the law should be held to the same or a higher standard than ordinary members of the public?

Yes it is a tough job to do properly, but no one is compelled to take it and it doen't magically transform officers into saints above criticism.

I do fear that an increasing number of officers are the wrong personality types. Attracted by the power of the job as they always were but now also by the militarised TV glamour and high pay. I'm not alone in this, I heard an older RCMP member voice the same concern.

As to this video I just looked at it again. Yes, it's by no means as serious as others that have come to light recently. Nonetheless it is perfectly clear that the fight is initiated by the policeman. I'm not saying he should lose his job over this, and anyway we all know there's not a chance of that, simply that this kind of thing is a symptom of a serious problem that will not be resolved by silence.

Here's a personal anecdote. A couple of years ago my teenage son and I were in England, a couple of (unarmed) policemen were walking down the road, on their beat, in their traditional uniforms, chatting like regular members of the community to passers by. My son was astounded, and I realised he'd never seen police as anything but something distant and rather scary, speeding by in their cruisers. As he said, "They're friendly".

Disservice to the police? Honest criticism is never a disservice. I'm a middle aged, middle class, property owning white guy. If people like me are uneasy, and I know they are, there's something wrong.

The family was from Abbotsford
So it would have to be Bob Rich

Fair enough, let me rephrase: you do the police and genuine victims of police violence a disservice with your characterization of the arrest shown in the video. I share your sentiments about community policing and your concerns about police violence. But, arguments for changes in the way policing is done in Canada become weaker when any resisted arrest caught on video is characterized as brutality. Police have to use force sometimes, and we need to recognize that.

You know what's eerie? The silence from Mayor Robertson on this assault by the VPD on a homeless guy. No calls for investigation? No remarks instructing the Chief to deal with this.

Absolute silence. Bizarre. Perhaps Eby can direct his complaint at Gregor too. He's the chair of the police board after all.

I think that if you let small things slide, before you know it you're dealing with serious problems. It's common sense, commonly disregarded by those who pride themselves on seeing only the big picture.

Police have to use force sometimes - true. In fact one of the defining characteristics of a civilized society is the choice of its citizens to give the monopoly of the legitimate use of force to their government. That monopoly must be used with absolute integrity, otherwise the society is corroded and potentially fatally undermined.

I emphasize absolute integrity. Anything less, such as we saw at the G20 in Toronto, at the G20 in London, at YVR or in this video, different in scale though they may be cannot be accepted or justified.

This may seem overblown but I am proud to be a citizen of two great nations, the UK and Canada. The concept of an accountable civilian police force is among their contributions to the modern world. Even something as trivial as this brawl on a downtown street and our response to it has some significance to that. So no, Mr Duchene, I'm doing no disservice to anyone.

@David Hadaway I'm glad you brought up the revolting events that happened at the G20 and at YVR, because that is exactly what I'm getting at. These events are not the same, and should not be characterized the same way.

At the G20, we saw shocking violence, intimidation and bad behavior inflicted on peaceful protesters, reporters, and just about everybody it seemed except for the actual vandals tearing up the city. At YVR we saw gross miscommunication and system failure, followed up by an innocent man's death, and then topped off with bold faced lying at the inquiry.

Here, we see a resisted arrest of a person with outstanding assault warrants in multiple provinces, including assaults on police.

Let's devote our attention to the real bad seeds, and let the rest of our finest do their job.

@David Hadaway On re-reading my response, I feel I should emphasize one more thing: when I contrast the arrest of Ali Eltah Ishag against other events where peaceful or innocent people were mistreated by police, I absolutely do not mean to imply that Ishag somehow deserved to be mistreated because there were outstanding warrants against him. My point is ONLY that there's nothing in the video to suggest lack of a reasonable balance struck between Ishag's safety and that of the officers making the arrest.

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