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Officer admits abusing authority

A Vancouver police officer who was captured on video pushing a disabled woman to the ground in the city's Downtown Eastside, further inflaming the department's already troubled relationship with the area's residents, admitted Monday that he abused his authority and used unnecessary force.

But Const. Taylor Robinson's lawyer told a disciplinary hearing the incident was an innocent lapse of judgment and that a two-day suspension would be punishment enough for a young officer who has already learned from his mistake. The province's police complaint commissioner asked for a suspension of eight to 10 days, while the lawyer for the woman who was pushed called for 15 days.

Robinson was walking along a busy sidewalk with two other officers in June 2010 when Sandy Davidsen, who has multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy, approached the trio from the opposite direction.

Security camera footage of the incident shows Davidsen, who walks with an unsteady gait, moving between Robinson and one of the other officers. Robinson responds by pushing Davidsen to the ground and then walking away with his colleagues.

Robinson previously admitted he neglected his duty by not checking to see if Davidsen needed help after she fell to the ground, but he denied he abused his authority when he pushed her.

His lawyer, David Crossin, told Monday's hearing that Robinson now takes full responsibility for his actions and admits be abused his authority, leaving the length of the suspension the main issue still left to be decided.

Crossin said Robinson incorrectly believed Davidsen had attempted to grab his firearm and then overreacted, but he said the officer never intended to harm the woman.

"What he was realizing after was the obvious: he had misapprehended what had taken place; he had made a mistake," said Crossin.

Crossin said Robinson attempted to visit Davidsen at her home to apologize in person, but she declined the offer. Robinson later apologized in writing, but Davidsen's lawyer said she didn't believe the apology was genuine.

He said the two-day suspension already proposed by the Vancouver Police Department would be "just and fair."

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