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Vancouver police officer on trial in cyclist punching case

By David P. Ball, 24 hours Vancouver

The Vancouver police officer charged with punching a cyclist more than a year ago pleaded not guilty as his assault trial began Wednesday.

Const. Ismail Bhabha faces one count of assault. Andishea Akhavan-Kharazi was pulled over after police said he breezed through a downtown red light on his bike with no lights or helmet in March 2013. An iPhone video of the incident drew public outcry after it was posted online. West Vancouver Police conducted an external investigation of the incident.

In provincial court Wednesday, Akhavan-Kharazi alleged the punch to his face — filmed by his friend Mike Schwarz — chipped his tooth and cut his lip.

Police accuse the Yaletown resident of being confrontational and resisting being handcuffed. Schwarz testified that his friend did not resist arrest, but did swear aggressively at Bhabha, “That's f---ing bulls--t,” he recalled.

“The conversation escalated to a tipping point,” Schwarz said. “What led to him being handcuffed was him swearing at the officer — for me, that was clearly the point where the officer was like, 'That's enough, turn around, you're under arrest.'”

The court viewed several of Schwarz's video clips, which depict the arrest and punch, but not the moments preceding it. The trial adjourned until Thursday because a Crown expert witness on the use of force said he was unable to attend because of “respiratory issues,” the court heard.






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