No criminal charges will be filed against Vancouver-Burrard MLA Lorne Mayencourt after an investigation into a physical scuffle on Denman St Feb 25, involving Mayencourt and a panhandler.
Mayencourt says the incident and the subsequent investigation were sobering.
“I’m glad to have it behind me,” he told Xtra West Jul 31. “At the end of the day, my job as a legislator is to help create legislation, not necessarily to enforce it. People assumed that because I was involved in an altercation, I provoked it and I hadn’t. But I had to let that process follow though.”
In March, the Criminal Justice Branch of the BC Attorney General’s office appointed Vancouver lawyer Len Doust as independent special prosecutor to examine Mayencourt’s conduct on that day and to determine if criminal charges ought to be brought against him.
Doust submitted his final report Jul 15.
“It is clear that, regardless of his intentions, Mr Mayencourt’s pursuit of [the other individual involved in the altercation] was aggressive and persisted notwithstanding the directions of 911 operators to desist,” wrote Doust in his report. “It is not clear, however, whether Mayencourt assaulted [him] in the course of their dealings.”
Doust concluded that because there were conflicting accounts from witnesses about the altercation between Mayencourt and the panhandler that “there is not a substantial likelihood that Mr Mayencourt would be convicted if charged.”
“There were six people who were witnesses,” says Mayencourt. “Four of them were firemen and two of them were private citizens who actually followed the whole situation. Their stories were consistent, but we did have an amazing number of false reports,” he continues. “People claimed they had seen something in the wrong location at the wrong time of day, or I was wearing the wrong clothes.”
Prior to this incident Mayencourt was criticized by many, including the BC Civil Liberties Association, for his Safe Streets Act. Mayencourt originally introduced the act as a private member’s bill which was adopted by the BC government and passed into law in January.
Under the Safe Streets Act, aggressive panhandlers and squeegee cleaners can be fined up to $115 by police.
In an all-candidates debate in April, Mayencourt recounted that on Feb 25, he’d been having coffee at Delany’s on Denman St when a man approached and asked him for money. Mayencourt said he politely declined and the man left without incident.
He said he later saw the same man verbally harassing women and children on the other side of Denman.
Mayencourt said he made repeated 911 calls on his cell phone and followed the man to Robson and Nicola where he recruited the help of some passing firefighters to “stop and help me hold the guy there until the cops arrived.”
“The guy popped me in the cheek,” said Mayencourt.
“I’m not a vigilante. I didn’t strike anyone. I didn’t threaten anyone, and I didn’t touch anyone,” he said.