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Taxi driver targeted by police ‘feared it was his last day’
The lawyer for a cab driver who was targeted by police in White Rock last month says his client was released from custody no more than six to eight minutes after being shot at, pulled from his cab, kicked in the ribs and handcuffed.
And police have still yet to provide either Rashid Ahmad or his counsel with any explanation of why officers took the steps to begin with, Deepak Gautam said Friday.
“They’re keeping a tight lip on it,” Gautam said. “I don’t know why they reacted like that, but what I can say is this demonstrates the high-handed and callous attitude – they have complete disregard for human life, it shows.”
Police Friday would not comment on Ahmad’s version of events.
“There’s really nothing for us to add,” Sgt. Peter Thiessen told Peace Arch News. “We’re still investigating that incident and what role everybody played in it.”
Ahmad, 50, was among three people – including another man and an elderly woman – taken into custody Jan. 29, during a takedown that police say was part of an investigation into a “known crack shack.”
It occurred around noon in the 1500-block of Finlay Street – immediately east of Peace Arch Hospital.
Ahmad said he was en route to the Semiahmoo Shopping Centre CIBC with the woman – whom he estimated to be in her 90s – and a man he believed to be her son, when the incident unfolded.
An unmarked car passed his cab after he turned off Russell Avenue onto Finlay. It stopped sharply in front of the taxi.
A shabbily dressed man got out of the car, drew a gun on the taxi and fired, Gautam said.
“(Ahmad) shouts to his passengers, ‘Duck down, he’s gonna shoot us,’ and then a shot is fired.
“The next thing he knows, he’s pulled out of his car, kicked in the rib cage, put to the ground with some officer putting his knee on his neck. He’s handcuffed and made to sit on the sidewalk.
“And after six minutes, another officer comes up to him, takes the handcuffs off and says, ‘You’re free to go… Do you want to go home or do you want to go to the hospital?’”
While Ahmad – a Surrey father of five who has driven for the same cab company for 14 years – deferred most questions to Gautam, he did tell PAN that he is still feeling “a little confused” from the ordeal.
“I’m struggling,” he said Friday.
He expects to learn Tuesday about the results of a CT scan that was taken after his head was injured in the incident.
“He went to the hospital because he was bleeding from the nose and from the mouth,” Gautam said. “The CT scan was of the left side of his head… that was swollen as well.”
Ahmad told Gautam that the scene “keeps on revisiting him.”
“He thought that that was his last day… that he would be killed.”
Police confirm they released all three of the taxi occupants from custody within 24 hours of the Jan. 29 incident.
Thiessen said Friday it would be “premature” to say if charges will come out of the drug investigation.
“It’s an active investigation. The investigation into the crack shack and alleged activities are being looked at and suspects being dealt with,” he said.
He could not predict how long the investigation into the officer-involved shooting would take, citing “all kinds of variables.”
Coquitlam RCMP Serious Crimes Unit is conducting that investigation.
Gautam said he believes “strong action” should be taken against the officer that fired, but expects police “will find a way” to justify the shooting.
“We’ve seen that in the past,” he said.
“You still have to apply an objective standard to this, and the courts will apply an objective standard.”
- with files from CTV News