The Vancouver Police Department is denying its officers used excessive force when they arrested the wrong man in February during a days-long, region-wide manhunt for a suspect accused of shooting a transit police officer.
The department filed a statement of defence earlier this month in response to a lawsuit from Jason Victor Hernandez, who sued the department and six unnamed officers in B.C. Supreme Court in August.
Hernandez claimed he was injured when Vancouver police officers arrested him on Feb. 1, thinking he was their suspect.
Officers were looking for Daon Gordon Glasgow, who was later arrested and charged with the attempted murder of Transit Police Const. Josh Harms at the Scott Road SkyTrain Station in Surrey, B.C.
In its response to Hernandez's claim, the department said its officers initially believed Hernandez to be Glasgow because of a call from the public, and that they handled the situation by the book.
'Almost no resemblance'
Hernandez, 47, claimed he was unarmed and leaving the Real Canadian Superstore at the Metrotown mall in Burnaby, B.C., when Vancouver police officers took him down.
Glasgow, 36, was still on the run at the time.
Hernandez's claim said he obeyed officers' instructions but suffered broken ribs and a concussion when he was "repeatedly struck by VPD officers." He also claimed he was handcuffed and brought into a waiting Vancouver police vehicle where he was told he was suspected of being Glasgow — "the perpetrator of the SkyTrain shooting."
"Despite the fact that Mr. Hernandez bears almost no resemblance to Mr. Glasgow, he was detained for over five hours while VPD members refused to check his identification or accept his explanation that he was not the person they were seeking," the lawsuit read.
Hernandez claimed he was only released when police processed his fingertips and found the prints didn't match the suspect's. He also said officers apologized for their mistake.
The police department's response to the lawsuit gives a different version of events.
The statement said two officers went to the Superstore on Grandview Highway in Vancouver — not in Burnaby — after a member of the public called police to say a man matching Glasgow's description was at the store.
The department said the officers approached Hernandez with guns drawn, believing he was Glasgow, and instructed him to lie on the ground. Officers claim Hernandez was handcuffed, searched and told to stay down while officers ran his driver's licence to ensure he was not Glasgow.
Once his identity was confirmed, the department said, officers removed the handcuffs and Hernandez returned to his feet.
"[Hernandez] was free to go ... within approximately 15 minutes after the lead constables first arrived," the statement read.
The court documents also denied officers used excessive force and said police offered to answer any questions Hernandez may have had about what happened.
Hernandez is suing for physical and mental damages he claimed he suffered through the ordeal. The department's statement of defence said Hernandez isn't owed any damages.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.