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Six Vancouver Cops Plead Guilty in Assaults

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Six city police officers have admitted assaulting three men in Stanley Park earlier this year.

The Vancouver officers unexpectedly pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of assault in Vancouver provincial court. Charges of obstruction of justice and assault with a weapon were dropped.

The officers declined comment after the proceeding.

The six will remain suspended with pay pending a disciplinary hearing in January. They will be sentenced in December.

"Remember that just because an officer is convicted of assault doesn't mean he has to lose his job," Constable Anne Drennan told a news conference Tuesday.

"We have officers on the job now who have been convicted of assault," said Drennan, who was unable to say how many other officers have criminal records for assault.

Drennan said the officers will face an internal hearing Jan. 16-17 where the burden will be on them to convince police Chief Jamie Graham that they should not lose their jobs.

The officers picked up three suspected drug dealers in downtown Vancouver early on the morning of Jan. 14. The men were driven to a private spot in Stanley Park and beaten, prosecutors said.

The officers involved were Christopher Cronmiller, Raymond Gardner, Duncan Gemmell, James Kenney, Gabriel Kojima and Brandon Steele.

Earlier this year, two people sued police after they were beaten as they left a riot outside a Guns `N Roses concert that was canceled.

In May, the U.S. group Human Rights Watch issued a report accusing Vancouver police of brutalizing drug addicts. In June, 50 complaints of police misconduct -- from beatings to illegal searches -- were filed by Pivot Legal Society with the British Columbia Police Complaints Commission.

The department has also come under fire for its handling of the disappearances of more than 60 women from downtown over a 20-year period. Charges were filed against Robert William Pickton in 2002 after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police joined the case. Pickton is to stand trial in 15 of the slayings.

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