Human rights complaint against City of New Westminster dismissed

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed a complaint of racial discrimination against the City of New Westminster because there was no reasonable prospect it would succeed.

Daniel Kombo complained to the tribunal about an incident on Feb. 26, 2012. He claimed when he returned to his car that day, a Sunday, there was a parking patrol officer about to give him a ticket, and when he asked her about issuing violations on a Sunday he alleges she replied by saying, "You black people, you don't understand the law, this is Canada."

He said New Westminster police called him down later that day and when he arrived was arrested without explanation in front of his family.

In its response, the city said his car was parked at an expired parking meter and the officer said he'd only be given a warning if he put money into the meter. Kombo did not put any money into the meter so she gave him a ticket, noting he had an outstanding unpaid parking ticket.

The city said Kombo was verbally abusive and the officer, in an affidavit, and that when she tried to hand the ticket to Kombo, he said, "I'll get you," to which she responded, "Is that a threat?" and he said, "Yes."

The parking officer felt threatened so she reported the incident to the police. A third-party witness confirmed the officer's side of the conversation to the police, and Kombo was arrested for uttering threats before being released on a promise to appear in court. However, no charges were ever laid.

Kombo told the tribunal he doesn't remember the patrol officer offering him the opportunity to put money in the meter, and if she did he would have done so. He said the officer's fear he might return with a baseball bat is unreasonable and based on her racial stereotype of black people.

The city presented affidavits from the police officer and the jail supervisor stating Kombo did not mention the alleged racial comments during lengthy conversations when he was arrested.

The city pointed out Kombo does not mention that "in addition to the thirteen-year-old child who accompanied him during the events in question, he was also in the company of an adult female, but he has not provided any written statement from that person relating either to the parking issue or his attendance and arrest at the police station."

Trubunal chair Bernd Walter granted the city's application to dismiss the complaint before being heard by the tribunal under the grounds that given the evidence there was no reasonable prospect Kombo's complaint would succeed.

In May, Kombo also made the allegations of racial discrimination to the police complaint commissioner's office which concluded there was no misconduct by the police.

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