A veteran Victoria police officer, who has been found guilty of assaulting a prisoner, does not pose a risk to the public and won’t be fired, says Victoria police Chief Const. Jamie Graham.
Sgt. George Chong, a 29-year veteran of the force, was convicted in provincial court Tuesday for putting Frank Blair in a chokehold. The prisoner lost consciousness, fell to the floor, hit his head and split open his lip.
Blair was being fingerprinted in the Victoria Police Department’s jail block in January 2010 when the assault happened.
With uniformed officers sitting behind him in the Victoria courtroom, Chong stood while provincial court Judge Herb Weitzel found him guilty of assault and handed him a suspended sentence and 12 months probation.
Chong, the brother of Ida Chong, Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA and a B.C. cabinet minister, was ordered to report to a parole officer by end of day yesterday (Nov. 24). He must also undergo counselling, and have no contact with Blair over the next year.
“If I thought the public was at risk, or I thought there was some reason why he could not work here, he would not work here,” said Graham at a hastily called press conference the same day Chong was convicted. “I don’t think that’s the case.”
Chong’s use of a lateral neck restraint on Blair “was justified under those circumstances,” Graham said.
Chong is taking annual leave, which will expire at the end of February.
The chief acknowledged this isn’t the first time Chong has caused problems. In 2008, the sergeant was involved in an off-duty road-rage incident for which he received a court-imposed conditional discharge from his duties and nine months probation.
Graham said Chong’s most recent “mistake” and conviction will require another review.
With the criminal case now over, the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner will make a decision next month based on a separate Police Act hearing on Chong’s use of force. The commission has three routes it could take, such as ordering a public hearing.
Chong and his lawyer Dennis Murray declined to comment. Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong did not respond to an interview request.