Vancouver Police Officer Ismail Bhabha will face a three-day trial, starting today, for allegedly punching a cyclist in the head. Bhabha, who was born in London, is expected to plead not guilty.
The incident, which was caught on tape, took place downtown in March 2013. Cyclist Adishea Akhavan was pulled over by VPD for riding without a helmet and running a red light. While Bhabha was handcuffing Akhavan, it appears that the officer winded up and punched Akhavan in the head. Mike Schwarz, a friend of Akhavan, caught the incident on video, than posted it on Facebook.
The video went viral and provoked outrage online.
Akhavan told media at the time of the incident that the punch knocked a tooth through his lip. Moreover, Schwarz is expected to be the main witness at the trial.
VPD told reporters that the video only captured a portion of the incident, and that Akhavan was “allegedly confrontational with police” and “escalated the situation.”
Furthermore, West Vancouver Police conducted an independent investigation in September 2013 of the incident, and recommended that Bhabha be charged with assault.
Bhabha joined the VPD in 2008, and is also an award-winning police officer, who received an award of excellence from the British Transport Police Federation for rescuing a woman and her daughter, who were being harassed by a mentally ill man.