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No jail time for officer convicted of deliveryman assault

Firoz (Phil) Khan, a newspaper deliveryman beaten by two off-duty police officers spoke for the first time Friday Jan. 23, 2009, recalling an attack that he charges was racially motivated.


An off-duty police officer who viciously assaulted a newspaper deliveryman outside a downtown Vancouver hotel will not serve jail time.

Constable Jeffrey Klassen, a member of the New Westminster Police Department, was handed a conditional discharge on Friday. He must serve one year of probation and 100 hours of community service.

Constable Klassen, one of two officers convicted in the January 2009, beating of Firoz (Phil) Khan, was found guilty in April. Constable Griffin Gillan, a West Vancouver police officer, pleaded guilty to assault in July, 2009, and was sentenced to 21 days of house arrest plus six months probation.

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During the trial, Constable Klassen testified he drank up to 11 beers in the hours before the incident. He denied punching Mr. Khan and said he used reasonable force, although the victim disputed that version of events.

Mr. Khan said he was delivering 75 newspapers to the Hyatt when the early-morning attack occurred. He said Constable Gillan asked for directions and was dissatisfied by Mr. Khan's slow response. At that point, he said the officer kneed him in the stomach and knocked him to the ground, where the attack continued.

Constable Gillan then called two officers he had been out with earlier in the evening, including Constable Klassen. Witnesses said they saw Constable Klassen punching Mr. Khan's back and yelling at him to "stay down or I will kill you."

The third officer in the incident was not charged.

Provincial court judge Jodie Werier said Constable Klassen - a 40-year-old father of two young children - made a "uniquely inappropriate decision" to intervene in the incident. But the judge added that Constable Klassen expressed what appeared to be genuine remorse and was not as culpable as Constable Gillan.

Mr. Khan, 49, said he was satisfied with the judge's ruling.

"I'm just happy because it is all over now," he told reporters.

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"I just want to focus on my family and continue with my life."

Azool Jaffer-Jeraj, Mr. Khan's lawyer, said his client has not returned to work. He said Mr. Khan has had trouble with his memory since the incident and suffered soft tissue damage to his brain. Mr. Khan has filed lawsuits against the two officers, though they have not yet been heard.

David Airey, manager of investigations for B.C.'s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, said a disciplinary hearing will be held for Constable Klassen, but a date has not been set.

Mr. Airey said an OPCC hearing has already been held for Constable Gillan and the allegations against him were substantiated - essentially, he was found guilty. Sentencing submissions will likely be heard in July, with dismissal from the West Vancouver Police Department a possibility.

Sergeant Gary Weishaar, spokesman for New Westminster police, said a Police Act investigation into Constable Klassen's conduct is ongoing. The officer was on paid suspension during his trial, but two weeks after he was convicted the New Westminster department discontinued his pay. The Police Act investigation could result in further discipline.

Judge Werier said Constable Klassen has already paid a steep price for the incident - he's lost thousands of dollars in income and been responsible for his legal expenses. She said the officer has received threats from members of the public and been diagnosed with clinical depression.

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Constable Klassen appeared subdued inside the courtroom. After the sentence was announced, the Crown prosecutor wished him luck and reached out to shake the police officer's hand. Constable Klassen refused.

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Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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