Vancouver Police chief apologized to wrongfully detained retired judge

"I know this would have been an unsettling, even traumatic, experience for anybody to go through," said VPD Chief Const. Adam Palmer.

Selwyn Romilly, the first Black judge named to the B.C. Supreme Court, was handcuffed by police who were searching for another suspect.

Vancouver Police Chief Const. Adam Palmer has issued a public apology to retired Justice Selwyn Romilly, who was handcuffed by officers in a mistaken arrest on Friday.

Palmer said officers were responding to a “dynamic urgent call” about a man yelling, punching and kicking people at the seawall near English Bay on Friday morning.

When officers saw Romilly they believed he matched the description of the suspect provided by the public and detained him briefly.

“I want to publicly apologize to Mr. Romilly for his detention,” said Palmer at a news conference on Monday. “I know this would have been an unsettling, even traumatic, experience for anybody to go through.”

Palmer said he had contacted the retired judge on Saturday to apologize. The responding officers and a VPD supervisor had also contacted Romilly to do the same.

On Saturday, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said he had apologized to Romilly, and called the situation “unacceptable.”

Stewart, who chairs the Vancouver Police Board, said the board will review this incident at the next available opportunity.

Romilly, the first Black person to be named a B.C. Supreme Court justice, told Postmedia, that he was out for a walk on the seawall when five officers approached him and handcuffed him in “indecent haste.”

The handcuffs were left on for about a minute.

Romilly said the incident, which occurred in a public place in front of many eyewitnesses, left him feeling embarrassed and upset.

Vancouver Police said the suspect was described as dark-skinned, about 40 to 50 years old. Romilly is in his 80’s.

Romilly had said he does not plan to file a complaint against the VPD.

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