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IIO sends report to B.C. Prosecution Service to consider charges involving Prince George RCMP in 2017

Police watchdog determines grounds to believe five local officers committed offenses
Prince George RCMP. (via Kyle Balzer)

Five officers involved in a 2017 incident in Prince George could face potential charges after an IIO investigation.

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) has announced it has forwarded a report to the B.C. Prosecution Service for their consideration of charges. 

On July 18, 2017 at roughly 10:30 p.m., police responded to a call of a man alleged to be casing parked vehicles in the 1000-block Central Street

When an officer tried to question the man, he allegedly tried to flee on a bike. During the attempt to take the man into custody, a struggle happened between the man and the officer. Other Mounties arrived shortly after. 

An IIO statement says pepper spray was used and the man appeared to be having trouble breathing, prompting police to call medical help. 

RCMP reported the man was removed from a police vehicle when Emergency Health Services arrived and then collapsed. He died shortly after. 

On July 26, 2017, the IIO said they believed a large number of people witnessed the incident and some captured the events on mobile phones. They also said they believe several vehicles were in the parking lot at the same time and occupants witnessed the altercation from nearby. 

Then on July 16, 2019, the IIO issued an update saying allegations of the obstruction of justice portion of the case related to the deletion of video from a civilian phone.

IIO Chief Civilian Director Ronald J MacDonald, QC has decided there are reasonable grounds to believe that two officers committed offenses to use of force while three other officers may have committed offenses regarding obstruction of justice. 

As per Section 38.11 of the Police Act, the IIO says it has forwarded a report to the B.C. Prosecution Service to consider potential charges. 

"Following the IIO’s information bulletin on July 16, 2019, advising that this matter would be referred to the BC Prosecution Service (BCPS), additional lines of inquiry were identified and followed," a statement from the IIO reads. 

"This work has now been completed and, in consultation with Crown Counsel, has been incorporated into an expanded file. Today, the IIO confirms that this investigative file has now been disclosed to BCPS."

In order for the charges to be approved against those involved, the prosecution service must be satisfied there is a substantial likelihood of conviction based on the evidence gathered by the IIO and that any prosecution is required in the public interest. 

"While the matter is with the Crown, the IIO will not be making any additional comment about the facts of this case."