RCMP apologize, settle with P.G. man

After seven years, a Prince George man's legal battle with RCMP over a physical battle at a Surrey home has come to an end.

Dwayne Washington and the RCMP came to an out-of-court settlement before a 21-day court hearing scheduled for the new year.

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RCMP E-Division spokesman Sgt. Rob Vermeulen said only "I can confirm that the matter has been resolved," and provided no other comment.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed by Washington, although he confirmed there was a financial component and an official apology component.

"The apology was no small thing," said Washington. "The apology is meaningful. I felt it was sincere. I felt it was honest."

The incident between Washington and RCMP officers took place in 2007. Washington was alone at his brother's house in Surrey when members of the RCMP's Emergency Response Team converged on the home in order, they said, to enforce a child maintenance order pertaining to his brother. He provided identification, he said, establishing he was not the person they sought. When Washington dutifully answered their initial questions and attempted to end the conversation after that, he told The Citizen, the police officers allegedly attacked him to the point some of his teeth were knocked out, boot marks were visible on his skin, and he needed medical attention for the painful wounds to his head, neck, torso and limbs.

Furthermore, said Washington, on top of the substantial beating, he went to five different police offices attempting to lodge a complaint and was turned away each time.

"They didn't stand a chance in court. There was a real recklessness on the part of these officers, many laws were broken by them, they know they were wrong and they know they committed abhorrent crimes, so why are they not being disciplined? And why is the public not shown what that discipline is? The RCMP didn't get away with it, but those two officers got away with it. They just learned again that they can act with impunity. They can act above the law."

Washington said he felt sorry for the many well-behaving members of the RCMP who are now tainted by this incident, at least in his eyes, and also wonders how good even those ones are if they stand by apparently indifferently throughout his seven years of striving for justice.

"There needs to be awareness. There needs to be a culture of change," said Washington. "There was some of that when (then-Minister of Justice) Shirley Bond established the Independent Investigation Office but it doesn't go far enough. I'm going to stay active, because the same thing could happen to anyone.

"The police seem to have a really hard time deescalating a situation," he said. "I will never answer my door to the RCMP again. Never. That trust is gone. And any police force needs to have the trust and confidence of its public."

Washington now lives in Alberta. He said he still attends counselling to deal with the mental effects of the incident.

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