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Police watchdog investigating after VPD vehicle hits pedestrian

British Columbia’s police oversight agency is investigating after a pedestrian was struck and injured by a Vancouver Police Department (VPD) vehicle in the city’s Downtown Eastside early Tuesday.

The collision on East Hastings Street happened less than three weeks after a VPD officer was fined for careless driving, after his speeding cruiser hit and seriously injured a pedestrian in September 2022 less than three blocks away from Tuesday’s collision.

The latest incident took place around 12:30 am PT on East Hastings near Dunlevy Avenue and is now under investigation, the Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) confirmed Wednesday morning.

The pedestrian was “not seriously injured when the collision occurred, but they are in hospital with serious injuries now,” VPD spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin told CBC News in an email Wednesday.

The force referred the file to the IIO, Visintin said.

The IIO says its investigation is in the preliminary stage and it would not share more information at this time.

The civilian-led agency investigates all incidents involving police that resulted in death or serious harm, regardless of whether or not there are allegations of wrongdoing.

BC’s police watchdog is investigating after a collision involving a pedestrian and a Vancouver police vehicle on Sept. 20, 2022.

Surveillance camera footage showing a VPD cruiser about to hit a pedestrian on East Hastings Street on Sept. 20, 2022. Const. Jack Zhao recently pleaded guilty to careless driving and was fined the maximum of $2,000 for the collision. (Submitted by VANDU)

Officer fined $2,000

On May 3, VPD Const. Jack Zhao admitted going faster than the posted 30 km/h speed limit on the stretch of East Hastings where the 2022 collision happened. Zhao, who pleaded guilty to careless driving, was fined the maximum penalty of $2,000.

Two other driving-offence charges against Zhao were stayed, according to court records. Visintin said he remains an active member of VPD.

The Downtown Eastside has some of the most dangerous intersections in the province for pedestrians, according to data from the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia (ICBC), the province’s public auto insurance provider.

The speed limit along a stretch of East Hastings through the Downtown Eastside was lowered to 30 km/h more than a decade ago, after a community campaign raised concerns about high numbers of pedestrians struck in the area.

The most dangerous intersection, according to ICBC, is East Hastings and Main streets, just blocks from the location of both police collisions.

The densely populated neighborhood, which has a high rate of drug use and mental illness, has arterial routes into downtown Vancouver that are shared by commuting and commercial drivers.

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