Grandfather, child handcuffed at Vancouver bank

Bank slammed by mayor

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart is accusing the Bank of Montreal of misleading police in a 911 call that led to an Indigenous man and his 12-year-old granddaughter being handcuffed last month.

“I felt sick when I first heard about this incident, and I find it unacceptable that the Bank of Montreal turned what should have been a positive occasion into one that reinforces our colonial past,” said Stewart in a statement issued Jan. 13.

“I am sad for the long-term impacts this may have on the child, her family and the broader community. BMO needs to do right by this family, take full responsibility for their actions and ensure this does not happen again.”

Maxwell Johnson took his granddaughter to the Burrard and Dunsmuir branch Dec. 20 to open a bank account for the girl.

An employee became suspicious and later asked Johnson and his granddaughter to come upstairs, where they were met by two Vancouver police officers and arrested.

Bank of Montreal issued a statement via Twitter, saying the bank was reviewing what occurred, how it was handled and planned to use it as “a learning opportunity.”

“We value our long and special relationship with Indigenous communities,” the tweet said.

“Recently, an incident occurred that does not reflect us at our best. We deeply regret this and unequivocally apologize to all.”

The mayor, who doubles as chairperson of the Vancouver Police Board, said the officers and Police Chief Adam Palmer have apologized for the incident.

Stewart said Palmer “feels as badly as I do about how the misleading information provided by BMO staff led the officers who responded to take actions they did.”

The VPD said in a statement to the Courier that officers were called to the bank to investigate a fraud in progress.

“Both individuals who were identified by the bank as suspects were initially handcuffed while officers investigated the claim,” the VPD said.

“Officers confirmed the identity of the two individuals and confirmed that no criminal activity had occurred. The individuals were released and officers continued to complete the investigation and closed the call.”

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner announced Tuesday that it has ordered the Delta Police Department to investigate the incident.

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