Vancouver police have apologized after five officers wrongly handcuffed and detained a retired black judge while he was out on his morning walk
Selwyn Romilly – who made history as the first black judge appointed to British Columbia’s Supreme Court back in 1995 – was strolling along the Stanley Park foreshore on Friday morning when cops pounced.
They claimed Romilly matched the appearance of a dark-skinned assault suspect aged between 40 and 50 who was lurking in the area. Romilly is 81 years old.
The retired judge told CBC he was placed in handcuffs for about a minute and that he was left ’embarrassed’ by the incident as the park was packed with people.
‘They said they got a report and I fit the description of a person. Without much ado, they told me to turn around and put my hands behind my back and put me in handcuffs,’ he told the publication.
In a separate interview with The Vancouver Sun, he stated: ‘I told them I was a retired Supreme Court judge. I don’t know whether that made them have second thoughts.
Vancouver police have not released a public statement regarding the incident, but Romilly said two senior members of the force have reached out to apologize.
He says he will not be making a formal complaint.
‘I hate to say that this is a case where I was targeted because I was walking while black, but you kind of wonder why those handcuffs were placed on me at such an early stage,’ he told CBC.
He says he hopes the police force becomes more ‘vigilant’ when training officers about how to deal with minorities.
Romilly is one of Canada’s most distinguished lawyers.
He was born in Trinidad before moving to the country for college in the 1960s
When he entered law school at the University of British Columbia in 1963, he was only the fourth black student to be admitted.
The father-of-two – who met his wife in law school – subsequently began a lengthy legal career.
He joined the Provincial Court of British Columbia in 1974 before his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1995.
While serving on the court, Romilly was noted for his ‘kindness and sincerity’ and became a mentor to law students, ‘encouraging their fledgling legal careers
Vancouver officials honored Justice Romily with an event at City Hall upon his retirement in 2015.