Mexican consulate wants answers after ‘assault’ on farmworker by Abbotsford police

Consulate says farmworker injured after being punched & kicked by officer and attacked by police dog

The Mexican consulate in Vancouver wants answers after one of its citizens in Abbotsford was allegedly punched and kicked by officers and attacked by a police dog Sunday evening.

The man, a temporary worker at an Abbotsford berry farm, was taken bleeding and bruised to hospital Sunday and later released. The next day, the General Consulate of Mexico sent an email to Abbotsford Police Chief Mike Serr detailing the incident, which occurred while officers were searching for two suspects in a major drug smuggling case near the U.S. border. The consulate said two farmworkers were detained at gunpoint, and it called for an investigation into the officers involved.

“For the Mexican government, this incident and the way it was carried out is extremely worrying,” the consulate wrote.

The Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner (OPCC) is now investigating.

In a news release that didn’t mention the incident with the farmworkers, the RCMP announced Thursday that officers had arrested one of two men suspected of using an ATV and a trailer to smuggle a huge amount of methamphetamine over the border near Mt. Lehman Road. Officers from the RCMP’s Border Integrity Enforcement Team, Abbotsford Police and US Border Patrol were all in the area at the time.

But the Mexican consulate said the search for the suspects left an innocent farmworker bleeding and bruised after being punched and kicked by a police officer and attacked by a police dog. That farmworker was one of two who were held at gunpoint by officers.

On Monday, the Mexican consulate wrote Serr to ask for an investigation. In the diplomatic note, which was provided to The News Thursday, the consulate said that on the night of the drug bust, two workers called its emergency line to request help “after being assaulted by police officers.”

Both workers were temporary foreign workers at Berry Haven Farm on Mt. Lehman Road, close to where the drug smugglers crossed the border from the United States.

RELATED: Police seize nearly 200 kg of meth near U.S. border in Abbotsford

The first worker reported that he was outside housing at the farm and using his phone, when he was “suddenly ordered to lay on the ground and was punched, kicked and attacked by a police dog, as well as being pointed at with a gun,” according to the consulate note. “The second national reports that he was also using his phone and was surprised to see his coworker attacked and, while that happened, was also told to lay on the floor at gunpoint by police.”

The first worker was released from police custody and taken to hospital, where he was treated for bleeding, scratches and bruises across his body, the consulate told The News. He was later released from hospital.

“Based on the foregoing, the Consulate respectfully requests the initiation of an investigation into the motives and conduct of the police officers who carried out the assault, in order to determine the possible sanctions that correspond according to the law and the compensation of the damage caused to the victims, where appropriate,” the consulate’s complaint says.

The complaint identified an Abbotsford Police officer as the dog handler, but was unclear about the affiliation of the two other officers involved in the incident.

Copies of the complaint were sent to Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun, Premier John Horgan, B.C. Police Complaint Commissioner Clayton Pecknold and Carla Qualtrough, the federal minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.

“The Consulate avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Abbotsford Police Department the assurances of its highest and distinguished consideration and will be thankful if the Department acknowledges receipt of this note.”

The consul general told The News that more than 1,000 seasonal workers come to Abbotsford each year to work on farms around the city.

The Abbotsford Police Department issued a statement that said that, during the search for the drug-smuggling suspects, “individuals were found, detained and later released when it was determined they were not the suspects.”

The statement confirmed that the OPCC has begun an investigation and assigned the Vancouver Police Department to conduct the probe. The OPCC investigates complaints involving municipal police departments, but not the RCMP, which has a separate complaints process.

“The Abbotsford Police Department and RCMP have ensured there are open lines of communications between our agencies and the Mexican Consulate in order to address the matter and the concerns raised,” the statement says. “We are confident that the investigation will ensure that the circumstances and actions of the officers are fully investigated.”

RCMP Cpl. Dan Michaud, the media relations officer who spoke about the drug bust, said the force had no comment on the complaints about the conduct of officers. He said no such complaint had been made “at the RCMP level.”

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This photo of approximately 10 years ago shows Laureen Fabian, on the left, and daughter Caterina Andrews. Fabian went missing last October and her daughter is looking for answers. (Contributed photo)
Laureen Fabian’s disappearance remains a mystery

It’s been a year since she went missing

Members of the Houston Fire Department spent Oct. 25 at an old residence at the end of River Bank Drive provided to them by the owner so they could hold a live fire practice. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)
Derelict house used for fire practice

Practice took place Oct. 25 on River Bank Drive

BC Hydro replaced poles in Houston on Oct. 23 causing a power outage in many spots in Houston. The next power outage for a transformer replacement is for today at Oct. 28 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. in these areas - 2240 to 2275 Baggerman Place; 3710 to 3895 Baggerman Crescent. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)
Pole replacements in Houston

BC Hydro replaced poles in Houston on Oct. 23 causing a power… Continue reading

District of Houston
Keep on trucking … not

Council is shelving a planned truck stop feasibility study in favour of… Continue reading

District of Houston
District honing in on webcasting of meetings, events

Would further engage residents in District business

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

The duffel bags were found to contain 84 pounds of cocaine, valued at approximately $1.2 million and 198 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at approximately $960,000. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
2 men accused of fleeing border agents near U.S.-B.C. border with $2M in drugs

Cocaine and methamphetamine seized by U.S. law enforcement in remote Idaho area near Canadian border

Most Read