Chong case under further review

Police Complaints Commission will examine actions of Victoria cop and chief.

A Victoria police officer convicted of assault this week may face further punishment, says the province’s office of the police complaints commissioner.

A provincial court judge found Tuesday that Sgt. George Chong, a 29-year veteran of the force, had used excessive force when he put Frank Blair in a choke hold while Blair was being fingerprinted in the department’s jail block. Blair subsequently lost consciousness and fell, hitting his head on the floor.

Deputy Police Complaint Commissioner Rollie Woods says now that the criminal case is complete, his office will review it to see if further action should be taken.

“We wanted to see what the judge said before making a decision,” Woods said. “We thought his reasons for the decision might assist us.”

A prior internal disciplinary review led by Victoria police Chief Jamie Graham will be the focus of the OPCC Police Act investigation. During the review, Graham determined that Chong had failed to provide Blair with the proper duty of care, but that the officer had not used excessive force.

“We’re not trying to comment on or criticize Chief Graham’s decision,” said Woods. “(The criminal trial and internal review) are separate investigations held by separate people and have separate standards. In court the judge has the benefit of hearing the testimony of witnesses and it’s not fair to think that Chief Graham got it wrong or the judge got it wrong.”

Woods said his office has ordered the court transcripts from Chong’s case and that they will proceed in one of two ways. One is a public hearing, which requires fresh witness testimony, and the other is a review on the record, which would see a retired judge review the evidence and make a decision based on that.

“Process-wise, we prefer to use the review on the record because it’s quicker, it’s far less expensive, and if we’re satisfied that the evidence was properly canvassed, it makes no sense to bring it back and review it again,” Woods said, adding that the OPCC hopes to decide on a course of action by mid-December.

“The department will continue to respect that process,” Chief Graham said in a release.

 

VicPD releases assault tape

Closed-circuit video of Sgt. George Chong’s assault of Frank Blair was released by Victoria police Friday in the interest of transparency, according to a statement issued by Chief Constable Jamie Graham.

“The Victoria Police Department has determined that release of the cell video depicting the incident is in the public interest,” Graham said. “The video was reviewed in open court during the assault trial, and is therefore a matter of public record.”

Footage from two different cameras is included on the video, but there is no audio component. It begins in the moments prior to Blair’s initial fingerprinting and continues through to the minutes after he was assaulted.

“No camera view shows a clear view of Mr. Blair’s face,” Graham said. “There is also no audio portion, as the jail cameras do not have that capability. Therefore, it is not possible for anyone to see or hear exactly what Sgt. Chong or the other jail staff members experienced.

“What is evident from the video is that Mr. Blair was agitated and continued to act in a manner that was resistant. What cannot be determined from the video are the additional and more subtle observations that Sgt. Chong made, and which caused him to believe that violence was imminent.”

Graham added that his department will be reviewing the court findings as soon as they receive a copy of the transcript.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A 23-foot sailboat that broke free from its anchor was smashed against Cattle Point during the early October south-easterly storms. (Ron Geezin Photo)
Storm-smashed boat pulled off rocks of Cattle Point in Oak Bay

Sailboat a casualty of last week’s big storms

More than 250 riders took part in the fifth annual Tripleshot CrossFondo, which riders across parts of the Saanich Peninsula, including this field near Sluggett Farms. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Tripleshot CrossFondo rides across Saanich Peninsula

More than 250 cyclists took part in mystery-course race

City of Victoria crews will soon be gathering up fallen leaves in neighbourhoods and city parks. First up on the pickup list are the James Bay, Fairfield, Rockland, Gonzales and South Jubilee neighbourhoods, starting Oct. 19. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Victoria city leaf pickup a sure sign of fall

Residential pickup begins Oct. 19, drop-offs can happen anytime at city yard

Local New Democrat Zeb King welcomed Premier John Horgan during a brief photo opportunity in Sidney Monday afternoon (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
NDP leader John Horgan predicts party will ‘flip’ Saanich North and the Islands

Incumbent MLA Adam Olsen calls Horgan’s claim ‘bold’

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Greater Victoria in high-demand on website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read