One man is recovering from multiple injuries and two others are charged with assault causing bodily harm after police responded to a report of a fight in the parking lot in front of the Esso service station at the corner of Burrard and Davie in Vancouver’s gay village at 3:50 am Jul 30.
“I had gone to Numbers and I headed over to Esso and Tim Hortons to grab a coffee, a sandwich and a bag of chips,” says Russell Young, the victim of the alleged attack. “I sat there eating my sandwich and was eating my chips when a cab pulled up.
“All I remember is two Indo-Canadians getting out of the back seat of the cab,” he continues. “The one on the right hand side of the car said ‘we hate your kind’ or something to that effect. I said ‘excuse me’ actually. Then, I just ignored them.
“The next thing I remember is being smashed in the face.”
Young was taken by ambulance to St Paul’s hospital where he was treated for a laceration to his upper lip, swelling to his nose, internal bleeding and a badly fractured lower right leg. He underwent surgery Jul 30 to stabilize the fracture.
Young says he thinks he blacked out during the alleged attack. He says he remembers being punched in the face and kicked in the leg but says when he came-to, police and ambulance were already on the scene.
“I believe I was on the ground and I tried to get up because I remember stepping onto that foot and the bone sliding to the outside of my flesh then sitting back down on the bench,” recalls Young. “I remember being covered in blood. My clothes were covered in blood; my legs and my face.”
Young says the police were very good, that they treated him well and apprehended two suspects right away. He says they were quick to get his statement and have been available to him since the alleged attack.
A spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) says the incident was reported by a witness some distance away who called 911 on his cell phone.
In his statement to police, the witness says one man got out of a cab, words were exchanged and the man from the cab allegedly punched the victim in the face.
A second man allegedly then got out of the cab and joined in the attack, punching the victim and kicking him a couple of times while he was on the ground.
“I’m hoping that they’re going to push that it was a hate crime because as far as I’m concerned that’s what it was; period,” says Young. “It was unprovoked and I think they should get the maximum for what they’ve done to me. This can affect me for the rest of my life.”
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, a judge may impose harsher sentences for crimes motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on, among other things, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor.
“I’m just assuming by the way I looked, they figured I was gay and that was it,” he continues. “There was no other reason to talk to them.”
Young says he thought downtown Vancouver was a safe place for queer people, but now he’s not so sure. “People seem to come down and target us down here. It’s pretty harsh,” he laments.
“People have to stand up for themselves and take care of each other,” advises Young. “This could have been another Aaron Webster. It could have been a horrible situation if I’d been in an alley or there weren’t other people around. I’m very angry. I’m not the kind of guy who cries very easy, but I’ve cried for a few days over this. I wonder what goes through their heads to make them this way.”
Charged with assault causing bodily harm are Randeep Cheema, 22 and Ravinder Toor, 27, both of Squamish.