VANCOUVER – Prominent Indo-Canadian performer Kiran Ahluwalia told the Globe and Mail newspaper she will be filing a formal complaint against members of the Vancouver Police Department over their alleged “aggressive behaviour” against her and members of her band during an incident last month.
Ahluwalia, a two-time Juno award winner, said a number of police brandishing machine guns stormed the hotel room of her Sengalese bass player Mamadou Ba, handcuffed him, then proceeded to her room, where they “aggressively” demanded entry.
Police had been responding to reports of a black man with a gun, last seen in the parking lot of the downtown hotel where Ahluwalia and her band were staying.
In an e-mail describing the incident, the New York-based singer and composer said she got into an argument with the head of the VPD unit involved, once it was determined that no one in her group had any firearms.
She became agitated, Ahluwalia said, after noticing that Ba was shaken and very disturbed by what took place.
“I am sure that if it was a white man, they would have knocked on the door and said they wanted to ask some questions,” she explained. “But because our bass player is black, they felt he was guilty and went overboard with the machine guns and handcuffs.
“The [officer] was arguing back with me, so I started taking iPhone video, and told them I was going to lodge a complaint about their needlessly aggressive behaviour,” Ahluwalia recounted. “When I started the video, they left quietly.”
She confirmed on Friday that she will be following through with her complaint, now that she has completed the tour that took her to Vancouver for a concert April 28. The confrontation occurred shortly after midnight.
“My bass player was unable to sleep for four nights. I myself had trouble sleeping for a few nights,” said Ahluwalia. “I have already phoned and spoken at length with the Vancouver police to lodge a complaint by phone, but I need to do it formally on the website.”
VPD spokesman Brian Montague, who stressed his knowledge of the incident was confined to the police report, said it would have been unusual for events to have unfolded as described by Ahluwalia.
He said police actions would have been similar if a blue person had been reported with a gun. “What we did was based on the description provided to us.”
The next day, police discovered a replica firearm in another room of the hotel, Const. Montague said.