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BC Prosecution Service drops manslaughter charges against two Prince George RCMP officers

Dale Culver died during July 18, 2017 arrest in Prince George
Dale Culver died in police custody in Prince George on July 18, 2017.

The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) has dropped charges against two Prince George RCMP officers accused of manslaughter in the July 18, 2017 death of Dale Culver in Prince George.

The BCPS announced Friday there is no longer a reasonable prospect of conviction regarding the charges previously approved on Feb. 1, 2023 against Cst. Paul Ste-Marie and Cst. Jean Francois Monette of the Prince George RCMP.

The incident involving the 35-year-old Culver occurred after police received a report about a man casing vehicles and found a suspect who tried to flee on a bicycle.

There was allegedly a struggle when police tried to take the man into custody, other officers were called, and pepper spray was used. Officers noticed the man appeared to have trouble breathing and called for medical assistance. He collapsed immediately after being taken out of the police vehicle and died soon after, police say.

Culver's death sparked an investigation by B.C.'s civilian based police watchdog, the Independent Investigation Office. In March 2020, IIO chief civilian director Ronald J. MacDonald forwarded a report to the BCPS in which he recommended that charges be laid.

Crown counsel agreed and, in February 2023, Monette and Ste.-Marie were charged with manslaughter.

Key to Crown prosecution's case against Monet and Ste.-Marie was a report from a pathologist who listed six factors contributing to the death, including blunt force head trauma.

The finding that head trauma contributed to Culver’s death. was further supported by the panel, including the original pathologist and two others,

However, during preparation for the preliminary inquiry, Crown prosecution was unable to resolve questions about the evidence of cause of death with the pathologist.

An opinion of another pathologist was obtained, and he found the cause of death was acute and chronic adverse effects of methamphetamine following a struggle, which led to sudden cardiac (arrhythmic) death.

A charge of attempting to obstruct justice against three other officers - Cst. Arthur Dalman, Cst. Clarence (Alex) Alexander MacDonald, and Sgt. Bayani (Jon) Eusebio Cruz - in relation to the incident remains outstanding.

- with files from Mark Nielsen