The Independent Investigations Office of BC in Surrey, B.C. (The Canadian Press)

The Independent Investigations Office of BC in Surrey, B.C. (The Canadian Press)

Police watchdog recommends charges against five Mounties in Prince George man’s death

Police used pepper spray on the man, who then had trouble breathing before dying at the scene

B.C.’s police watchdog is recommending charges against five RCMP officers in Prince George in connection to an arrest in 2017 where a man died after being pepper-sprayed.

The incident happened on the evening of July 18, 2017 when an officer responded to reports of a man alleged to be checking out parked vehicles, the Independent Investigations Office said in a report released Friday (May 29).

It’s alleged that the man tried to flee on a bicycle. While attempting to take the man into custody, a struggle ensued between him and the officer when additional officers then arrived.

Pepper spray was used and the man appeared to have trouble breathing, causing the police on scene to call for paramedics.

Once paramedics arrived, the man collapsed and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter, the report indicates.

In his initial report in July 2019, chief civilian director Ronald J. MacDonald announced the agency would be suggesting criminal charges to Crown counsel. At the time, MacDonald did not detail how many officers were involved nor what offences may have been committed.

On Friday, May 29, MacDonald clarified that “reasonable grounds exist” to believe that two officers may have committed offences in relation to use of force, while three others may have committed offences regarding obstruction of justice.

The B.C. Prosecution Service is now reviewing the report to determine potential charges. In order to approve charges, Crown counsel must be satisfied that there is a substantial likelihood of conviction based on the evidence gathered by the police watchdog, and that prosecution is required in the public interest.

Black Press Media has reached out to the B.C. Prosecution Service for comment.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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