Men reported for taking photos at Vancouver mall 'completely innocent,' police say

VANCOUVER -- A leaked internal police memo and accompanying photo labelled three "Middle Eastern" men suspicious, but on Friday Vancouver police said the men they wanted for questioning were actually innocent.

See Full Article

The leak gives an inside look at police communication and reveals how common such suspicious circumstances can be.

Still photos from surveillance footage began circulating Thursday night after Internet news and culture publication Vancity Buzz posted an article saying police were looking to speak with the men, who were spotted taking pictures of the entrances and exits at a local mall.

Police Chief Adam Palmer told a news conference Friday that the information about the suspicious incident was included in a confidential police bulletin, and was never intended to be released to the media.

"We weren't planning on going public with it at this point because we didn't feel it was something serious enough to go public with at this point," he said.

Hours later, police released a statement saying they had identified and spoken with the men.

"All three men were co-operative with investigators and they had a very logical explanation regarding their behaviour," the statement said. "The investigation has conclusively determined that their actions were completely innocent."

Vancity Buzz editor in chief Farhan Mohamed said his team published the story because it was in the public interest.

"I don't think it's fear-mongering. I think we're just being factual that this is happening and this could be something," he said.

The publication received a tip, and confirmed the information with police, who did not ask them to stifle the story, Mohamed said.

"I understand the gravity of the situation and investigations," he said. "And had it been a situation where they said 'This is an ongoing investigation, nothing that we want out yet, can you please not run it' then we wouldn't have run it."

The bulletin stated that the men were Middle Eastern, a fact Vancity Buzz included in their story.

Palmer said the description was not racial profiling, and that details on race are always included in these kind of memos between police forces.

"Regardless of what race these people may or may not be, that's not really the issue. The issue is that we weren't planning to go public with it at all," he said.

Reports of suspicious incidents are a regular occurrence for police, and the process includes looking to police experts before taking the information to the public, Palmer explained.

Often, that process includes sharing information with other police forces.

"When we fan these types of things out to police officers throughout the province, on almost every occasion, somebody will know who this person is," the chief said.

Despite the leak, Palmer said his force will not change the way it shares information with other forces.

They won't search for the source of the leak either.

"To track that down would be pretty onerous and pretty unlikely to find out who actually did it," he said.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Ukraine says it repels Russian attack as war grinds in east

    World News CTV News
    KYIV - Ukrainian authorities said Friday that their troops repelled a Russian attack in the east, as Moscow struggled to gain ground in the region that is now the focus of the war even while intensifying its campaign there. Source
  • UN: 18 million facing severe hunger in West Africa's Sahel

    World News CTV News
    GENEVA - The UN is warning that 18 million people in Africa's Sahel region face severe hunger in the next three months, citing the impacts of Russia's war in Ukraine, the coronavirus pandemic, climate-induced shocks and rising costs. Source
  • Biden's approval dips to lowest of presidency: poll

    World News CTV News
    U.S. President Joe Biden's approval rating dipped to the lowest point of his presidency in May, a new poll shows, with deepening pessimism emerging among members of his own Democratic Party. Only 39% of U.S. Source
  • Canadian volunteer in Ukraine roots for the Calgary Flames

    Canada News CBC News
    It means staying up until 4:30 a.m., but Steve Rock is cheering for the Calgary Flames from Ukraine. Rock, 34, was travelling in Europe when Russia invaded Ukraine. He wanted to find a way to be useful, so after several difficult conversations with family and friends, he decided to become a volunteer with organizations working in the war-torn country, including Calgary-founded Helping Ukraine Grassroots Support (HUGS), which provides aid to the country. Source
  • Ireland gives warm welcome to Ukrainians fleeing conflict. Asylum-seekers from elsewhere point to unequal treatment

    World News CTV News
    When 25-year-old Maria Kozlovskaya gazes out of the window, she sees the green fields of the west of Ireland. It's a far cry from the shelled apartment buildings of her home city of Zaporizhzhia in southeastern Ukraine. Source
  • North Korea is facing a COVID disaster. What does that mean for Kim Jong Un?

    World News CTV News
    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un looks like he's in big trouble. His country has announced an "explosive" outbreak of COVID-19, reporting more than 2million cases of what it refers to as "fever" in little more than a week since its first reported case. Source
  • Sri Lanka closes schools, offices due to fuel shortage

    World News CBC News
    Sri Lankan schools were closed and public officials were asked not to come to work in a desperate move to prepare for an acute fuel shortage that is expected to last days, with protests continuing amid the nation's worst economic crisis in decades. Source
  • Searchers find missing Arizona hiker dead, his dog alive with him

    World News CTV News
    PRESCOTT, Ariz. - A missing hiker was found dead, his dog alive and lying next to him, in rugged forest in north-central Arizona five days after reporting he was lost, authorities said Thursday. Searchers found the body of Donald Hayes on Wednesday near Mingus Mountain after six days of looking for the 74-year-old Prescott Valley man, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. Source
  • Norway: At least 3 injured in family-related stabbing attack

    World News CTV News
    COPENHAGEN, Denmark - A suspect was arrested in Norway after at least three people were stabbed with a sharp object, leaving one critically injured Friday, police said. Police at first said the attack in the village of Nore as random, but later clarified that there was “a family relationship” between the assailant and at least one of the victims. Source
  • Anti-abortion activist is charged with stalking a California doctor who provides abortions

    World News CTV News
    A Los Angeles man is facing multiple charges after prosecutors allege he was part of a group of anti-abortion activists who targeted a women's health clinic and stalked a doctor who provides abortion services, the San Francisco District Attorney's Office announced Thursday. Source