Police are recommending assault charges against the two men who were originally detained then released at the scene of an alleged gaybashing outside Tinseltown on Oct 8.
A 22-year-old from Port Moody and a 20-year-old from Fort St John have again been released from custody “on promises to appear in court,” according to Vancouver police.
It could be weeks before the men appear in court, Vancouver police media spokesperson Const Lindsey Houghton told Xtra on Nov 2. “It’s all up to Crown because they haven’t approved charges yet,” he adds.
“In the event of convictions, police are also requesting that Crown counsel assess the evidence that homophobic comments were allegedly made when determining if there is enough to support sentencing recommendations under hate crime provisions,” a Vancouver police statement says.
Thomas Pope says he was waiting for two friends outside the McDonald’s at the corner of Abbott and Pender streets on Oct 8 when he was called a “faggot” and attacked.
Pope alleges that one of the men grabbed him by his shirt pocket, ripped the buttons and started punching him in the face, all the while calling him a faggot.
The man then punched Pope’s friend in the face and knocked out his tooth after his friend tried to intervene, Pope alleges.
Pope says police arrived quickly on the scene and handcuffed two men but let them go.
Police confirmed that two men were initially taken into custody at the scene but were released “while the case was being investigated.”
Pope says he was disappointed with the police that night.
He says one of the officers told him he was “lucky that they came because they were off the clock, and that they weren’t getting paid for it.”
At one point, Pope says, one of the officers “was swearing at us and yelling at us.”
The disappointing police response prompted Pope to ask Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert to intervene in the case.
Twenty-five days later, police say “an extensive investigation” has led them to recommend assault charges and to ask Crown to assess the incident to see if hate was a motivating factor.
“I’m very happy that they are recommending the charges against the two alleged attackers, and also in their press release speaking very clearly that they think the Crown should pursue hate crime status for this attack with the evidence they have collected,” Chandra Herbert told Xtra on Nov 2.
“We’ve gone from when I first got involved in the case where it seems like it wasn’t being taken seriously by the police, to now arrests, and that’s really good news,” he adds.
“I know that Thomas and his family have been speaking directly with the police around the concern that it wasn’t taken seriously to begin with, and I think they’re continuing those conversations.”
Xtra‘s attempts to reach Pope were so far unsuccessful.
Houghton says Pope has not filed an official complaint against the officers thus far.
Neither are the officers who attended at the Oct 8 incident being investigated for their conduct, he says.