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Human rights group concerned by arrest video

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is raising questions about whether excessive force was used after seeing a video showing a police takedown of two men found inside an allegedly stolen pickup truck. The video taken Feb.
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A screen capture from a surveillance video shown on the Global TV website appears to show Prince George RCMP officers detaining a suspect in a vehicle theft. The video has raised concerns about whether police used excessive force to detain the suspect.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is raising questions about whether excessive force was used after seeing a video showing a police takedown of two men found inside an allegedly stolen pickup truck.

The video taken Feb. 18 from a camera installed on the back of a home in the 2200 block of Oak Street, shows Prince George RCMP relying on a service dog to pull the driver out of the truck and taking him to the ground in a back alley.

Two other members, then a third, dealt with the passenger on the other side of the vehicle and out of sight of the camera. It appears he was also treated roughly but also indicates he could have been struggling with police.

"It's very difficult to watch that video and have any idea of how that level of force could've been justified," said BCCLA policy director Micheal Vonn said.

"With all of the usual provisos of 'this doesn't tell us the narrative, we have all kinds of missing pieces,' among the concerns that we have is one, it does not appear this person was ever given the opportunity to leave their vehicle, they were simply seized.

"And two, it's very difficult to tell again, the video has a limited amount of ability to really focus in, but it almost appears as if the officer loses control of the dog."

In a statement, Prince George RCMP have said the video will be reviewed to ensure the member's actions complied with training and policy but also noted the video "does not allow the viewer to hear our commands or the suspects' verbal responses."

Vonn suggested that does not matter.

"I can't imagine what the command would've been," Vonn said. "As far as we can tell on that video, no one moved."

She said the RCMP's civilian review and complaints commission should take up the matter in the form of an independent review.

If one is pursued, it could lead to changes in RCMP procedure.

"We have here what has the potential to be a systemic issue," said Vonn.

Depending on the extent of the injuries suffered, she said the Independent Investigations Office, the province's civilian led watchdog that investigates police involved serious injuries and deaths, should also get involved.

"They have a standard for serious injury and again just looking at the video, it's difficult to tell, but if the dog attacks had been actual dog bites then that may well put us into the terrain of qualifying for the IIO's mandate," Vonn said.

Prince George RCMP said the suspects did not require medical attention although photos obtained by the CBC of the man arrested show bite marks to an arm and abrasions to his head.

IIO spokesman Marten Youssef said it has not been notified of the incident.

"The Police Act requires police to notify the IIO when there is serious injury," Youssef added.

In connection with the incident, Cuyler Richard Aubichon has been charged with possession of stolen property over $5,000, flight from a peace officer, willfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer and possession of a controlled substance.

Nathaniel Lazarus Basil has been charged with possession of stolen property over $5,000 and willfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer.

The lawyers representing the two could not be reached for comment Thursday. Both men arrested remained in custody as of Thursday.

The video can be viewed on Global News' website online at: pgc.cc/1Ws0KcL.