B.C. Lions’ defensive coordinator Ryan Phillips accuses Surrey RCMP of racial profiling

Photo courtesy: Steven Chang/B.C. Lions

B.C. Lions’ defensive coordinator Ryan Phillips has publicly accused the Surrey detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) of racial profiling after an incident that took place on Sunday morning.

In a series of tweets starting at 5:23 a.m. local time, Phillips alleged that he was pulled over without explanation and had backup called on him, before being handcuffed by officers. He was not arrested and it does not appear that any charges were filed.

It’s honestly a Damn shame the racial profiling I just experienced from the Surrey RCMP literally pulled over for zero reason and when asked got zero explanation. Called 4 police officers for one black male by himself & after all the madness I still have zero explanation of why,” Phillips posted.

I’m beyond aware of the violence that’s been happening in Surrey. But the way Surrey RCMP just acted was beyond unlawful & ridiculous. When I expressed myself as a black male from the states that I felt profiled they decided to handcuff me like they’re the victim or threatened.”

If the Surrey RCMP thinks this is over and my voice won’t be heard they have another thing coming. I have seen them do it to players and now to myself. It’s a complete jerk and abuse of power. PERIOD”

In a later response to a concerned follower, a frustrated Phillips insisted he was not being physically aggressive with the officers and that his race played a role in their reaction.

“It was beyond terrible & very evident to say the least. I’m going to ask this one question. If a man voices his concerns, asks for reasoning & is outnumbered 4 to 1 what are you threatened by? No weapon, no speech of physical abuse or intent. But you feel the need to handcuff?” he asked rhetorically.

Also may I add zero aggressiveness from the beginning of the conversation so why do you feel the need to call 3 more officers? Whatever assistance you think is needed why do you need 3 more? And I’m supposed to be okay with that and not feel threatened or profiled. [thinking emoji] BE REAL.”

Phillips declined a request for interview from 3DownNation, saying the incident was a personal matter.

Surrey RCMP responded to a request for comment on Monday afternoon with assistant commissioner Brian Edwards communicating the following.

We are aware of a series of public social media posts, posted by an individual alleging he was racially profiled and pulled over for no reason by Surrey RCMP officers in the early morning hours of Sept 11. These are serious allegations.

Any person who believes the standard of police service has fallen short is strongly encouraged to report their concerns to us, so they can be fully reviewed and examined. There are several processes to ensure that a full and transparent review is conducted. This includes independent oversight through the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, an independent agency that is not part of the RCMP.

Given the social media posts, I do feel it necessary, however, to clarify police actions for the purpose of maintaining public confidence in policing in Surrey, and the actions of our officers. This can be a delicate balance but I feel it is necessary in this instance.

Observing provisions of the Privacy Act, I am limited as to the details I can provide in response to this social media posting.

I will clarify that a traffic stop was initiated due to one of our officer’s observing erratic driving behaviour over several blocks. I’m confident that the documentation served by police to the driver at the time outlines the reasons for the stop and any processes for dispute.

The file is well documented and based on what I have reviewed, I am satisfied the officers acted very reasonably and met RCMP service standards in this interaction. They were executing their duties to ensure public safety in the City of Surrey. Again, I cannot provide additional details as the driver remains entitled to his privacy in relation to this matter.

In November 2021, the B.C. Human Rights Commissioner released a report detailing a “disturbing” pattern of racial discrimination by police services province-wide, including Surrey. While just 1.8 percent of the city’s population identifies as Black, that demographic accounts for five percent of all arrests.

Surrey has been in the process of transitioning away from the RCMP since 2018 and is establishing its own municipal police service. The city is home to the Lions’ practice facility, with many players living nearby.

Phillips first joined the Lions’ coaching staff in 2019 as defensive backs coach and was officially promoted to defensive coordinator this season.

The native of Seattle, Washington enjoyed a 13-year playing career in the CFL, 12 of which came in B.C. He was named a West Division all-star five times and took home league honours four times, retiring as the team’s all-time record holder in interception return yards and defensive touchdowns.

Phillips won two Grey Cups with the Lions as a player in 2006 and 2011.