The BC Prosection Service (BCPS) announced Monday (July 31) that charges will not be laid against an Abbotsford Police dog handler in connection with an arrest in which a man suffered serious bites.
“The BCPS is not able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officer committed any offence in relation to the incident,” a press release states.
The province’s independent Investigations Office (IIO), which looks into officer-related incidents that result in serious harm or death, was called in after a man was injured during an arrest on March 6, 2021 in the 3700 block of Davie Street.
The IIO concluded that the officer, who is not named in the report, might have committed a criminal offence and forwarded a report to the BCPS for the consideration of charges.
BCPS documents related to the case state that the incident stemmed from an incident Feb. 25, 2021 in which a resident reported that his minivan had been stolen.
The resident had left the unlocked vehicle running while he went into his home.
Another person reported on March 5, 2021 that his wife’s purse had been stolen from her vehicle while she was checking the community mailbox. The vehicle involved in the theft matched the description of the previously stolen van, as did the partial licence plate provided by the victim.
Police were able to locate the stolen vehicle at a home in Abbotsford and placed a tracking device on it, according to the BCPS report.
On March 6, the tracking device indicated the mini van was being driven, and it was tracked driving slowly through several parking lots in Abbotsford, including by a police helicopter.
Three officers, including one with a police dog, concealed themselves in some trees nearby when the vehicle was returning to the area where it was initially located.
The helicopter crew informed the officers on the ground that the suspect had parked, got out of the vehicle and stepped into some bushes adjacent to a neighbour’s driveway.
This “elevated the risk assessment” because offenders often hide weapons in outdoor areas near their home, the report states.
As the suspect neared the officers’ location, the officer with the dog stepped out and yelled at the man to get on the ground.
“The (suspect) dropped his bags, stepped back and started turning sideways away from the police. The (suspect) put his hands in the air but did not lie on the ground,” the BCPS report states.
The officer deployed the dog, which bit the suspect on the back of his upper right thigh. After the man was placed in custody, he was taken to the hospital, where he received 20 to 25 stitches, according to the BCPS report.
The BCPS had to determine whether the level of force used in the case was excessive.
“Based on the totality of the circumstances, there is insufficient evidence to prove that the force used by the (officer) was unreasonable, disproportionate or unnecessary,” the report states.
“There were factors that made the arrest high-risk, and the available evidence shows a meaningful potential for violence and the involvement of weapons. The (officer) subjectively believed that the force used was necessary and the available evidence does not prove that his belief was objectively unreasonable.”
The BCPS concluded that the case did not have a “substantial likelihood of conviction” and did not approve charges against the officer.