Less than a year after he was convicted of an off-duty assault on an inebriated pedestrian, a veteran Victoria police officer is facing allegations of an on-duty assault on a suspect in custody.
Chief Jamie Graham revealed at a news conference yesterday that a "veteran Victoria police sergeant has been suspended with pay amid allegations he assaulted a prisoner in the department's cell blocks" earlier this month.
Chief Graham declined to name the officer, but said he was the senior supervisor in charge of the jail cells on the night of the incident and has 28 years of service with the department.
The officer is Sergeant George Chong, a 28-year Victoria police veteran and brother of Oak-Bay Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong, a provincial cabinet minister.
In a brief statement to reporters yesterday, Ms. Chong confirmed that the allegations involve her brother and pledged to support him and his family through this "very difficult time."
Chief Graham said a 33-year-old man suffered facial injuries on Jan. 15 around 10:30 p.m., shortly after he was taken into custody for violating the conditions of his release on other, unspecified charges.
The officer involved immediately reported the incident to his supervisor, triggering an internal investigation, a criminal probe that will be handled by the Vancouver Police Department, and an investigation by the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner, Chief Graham said.
"Preliminary inquiries have led to an allegation of assault against one of our officers," he said.
Investigators will also probe allegations that police took too long - between "a half-hour and three-quarters of an hour," Chief Graham said - to seek medical attention for the injured man.
While he refused to provide details of the allegations, Chief Graham acknowledged that the incident was recorded by a video system that monitors the detachment's cellblocks and prisoner booking area.
"There's some pretty clear video in this case," he said.
Last March, Sgt. Chong received a written reprimand from Victoria police after he pleaded guilty to assaulting Randy Kerr, a pedestrian who admitted swearing at the off-duty officer as he passed through a downtown intersection in his car.
The court gave Sgt. Chong a conditional discharge and nine months probation and ordered him to undergo anger management counselling.
Due to his sister's role as Minister of Healthy Living and Sport in the provincial cabinet, the B.C. Attorney-General's Ministry appointed a special prosecutor to handle Sgt. Chong's case.
Just over a year ago, Victoria police reached an out-of-court settlement with Thomas McKay, a Camosun College student who suffered permanent brain damage in 2004 when he was thrown to the cell block's concrete floor by Victoria police Constable Greg Smith.
Among the changes that resulted from that incident were softer padding on the floors and improvements to the booking area's surveillance system.
Inspector John Ducker, a senior officer with the department, has spoken directly with the alleged victim in the Chong case and conveyed the department's regrets, Chief Graham added.
With a report from CTV