Victoria police officer used unnecessary force in nightclub brawl, hearing finds

Video evidence key in March 2010 arrest of Tyler Archer; officer will face disciplinary hearing

A public hearing into the conduct of two Victoria Police Department officers found one officer used unnecessary force and abused his authority when he kicked a Saanich man outside a downtown Victoria nightclub three years ago.

B.C.’s police complaint commissioner ordered the hearing after New Westminster Police and Vancouver Police both conducted separate investigations into the March 24, 2010 incident and cleared Const. Chris Bowser and Const. Brendan Robinson of wrongdoing.

But on Wednesday, retired provincial court judge Ben Casson said Bowser overstepped his duties when he delivered a “thrusting, forceful kick” to the back of Tyler Archer, then 19 years old, outside the now-defunct Social Club in Market Square. Video of the incident went viral on YouTube.

Casson also vindicated Robinson of any wrongdoing. Bowser will now face disciplinary action from the police complaint commissioner that ranges from a written reprimand to being fired.

“We’re disappointed in the ruling,” said Acting VicPD Chief John Ducker outside the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner. “These officers are charged with going into very challenging situations, fuelled by alcohol and drugs, and making perfect decisions in a matter of seconds.”

In the video, Bowser kicks Archer and thrusts his knees into Archer’s back several times. Archer displayed no signs of aggressive behaviour and was complying with Bowser’s demand to get on the ground, Casson said.

Casson said the video evidence placed him like a “fact-finder” at the scene of the incident, and “the chaos Const. Bowser and Robinson have described” in justifying their actions was not apparent in the footage.

VicPD is still discussing whether or not to appeal the decision, Ducker said, as the process has dragged out for more than three years already.

dpalmer@vicnews.com