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No charges laid in PG RCMP assault investigation

Two RCMP officers have not been charged following an investigation into a 2020 arrest that ended with a suspect in the hospital.

The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) made the announcement today (Friday).

The arrest took place on July 30, 2020, after officers received a report that a stolen vehicle had been found driving erratically with its alarm going off near a parking lot on Highway 16 in Prince George.

When police arrived, a male suspect ran into a “wooded and swampy area near a large pond off the side of the highway,” according to the BCPS.

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Two officers followed the man into the bush with a service dog and arrested him.

The arrested man was briefly taken to a cell until other officers sent him to the hospital.

According to the BCPS report, he was in the hospital for a week, being treated for “a broken orbital bone, subdural hematoma, fractured cheek, fractured nose, significant soft tissue damage and swelling, abrasions on arms and puncture wounds (from the dog) on his arm, back, and left flank.”

He had drugs on his person and in his system at the time of arrest.

When he was interviewed by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the man said he stopped running from the officers when the pond he entered was too deep and he couldn’t swim.

His testimony says he submitted to the officer and was laying down as ordered, then the “officers released the dog… and began striking him in the head. He believes the dog handler kicked him in the head one-two times and that the other officer struck him in the face approximately 20 times over a period of a few minutes. He described that he was then handcuffed and “dragged” out of the bush by SO 1 over uneven ground.”

The IIO recommended the officers involved be charged with assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon in February of 2022.

In the BCPS report, they state “The injuries could have been caused by the alleged assault described by the AP, however,
the injuries also could have been caused by a fall from standing height, or even potentially lower, if he hit his head on something hard.”

“There is evidence that the arrest in this case involved the intentional application of force by the Subject Officers to the Affected Person without his permission. This meets the definition of an assault. There is also evidence that the assault caused harm to the AP that was more than trifling or transient and that the police dog was deployed as a weapon to bite the AP. The real issue is whether the use of force to apprehend the AP was reasonable or excessive within the meaning of the Criminal Code.”

“In a potential prosecution of the Subject Officers, the Crown would bear the burden of proving that the Subject Officers were not legally justified in using force or that they exceeded what was reasonable in the circumstances. The AP had shown himself to be determined to evade arrest. He was seen driving a stolen vehicle in a manner that caused witnesses to call 911, before fleeing into a wooded area with a co-perpetrator who was still unaccounted for. Before the arrest, he had an unidentified object in his raised hand. These factors suggest that the arrest had a heightened risk.”

Inconsistencies in the suspect’s statements to the IIO and medical staff also hurt their case, including whether or not he surrendered or was taken down by police while still running.

You can read the full statement from the BC Prosecution Service here.

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