Handcuffing of retired Black judge mirrors brother's false imprisonment 46 years ago

Vancouver's police chief publicly apologized to retired B.C. Supreme Court Justice Selwyn Romilly this week after his officers detained and handcuffed the province's first Black judge while looking for another Black man half his age.

It wasn't the first time the department has had to make amends for wrongfully detaining a Black member of B.C.'s legal community.

It wasn't even the first time the VPD have had to apologize to a Romilly.

Nearly half a century ago, Selwyn Romilly's brother — Valmond — won a judgment against three Vancouver police officers who falsely imprisoned him by hauling him into custody while searching for a Black suspect who looked nothing like him.

Valmond Romilly, who went on to become a provincial court judge, told the officers he was a lawyer, and they laughed at him. He told the court at the time that the entire incident left him feeling "embarrassed, humiliated and upset."

Newspaper accounts of the trial suggest that while his testimony may have reflected the fashion of the day, its central truth still applies to the situation his brother faced 46 years later, when he was handcuffed by officers hunting a suspect with the same colour skin.


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