B.C. Prosecution Service says it won’t be approving charges against a Vancouver Police officer in connection with a 2021 arrest where the suspect suffered facial injuries that needed sutures and staples, as well as a fractured arm.
BCPS said in a release Tuesday (Sept. 12) that evidence in the July 22, 2021 incident doesn’t meet the charge assessment standard, noting the BCPS is “not able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officer committed any offence in relation to the incident.” The charge being considered was assault causing bodily harm.
The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. forwarded a report to BCPS on Jan. 26, 2023 to consider charges, noting that the officer may have committed use-of-force offences during the arrest by using a bean-bag gun as a weapon not intended for its use and by kicking the suspect. Chief civilian director Ronald MacDonald said the suspect sustained serious but not life-threatening injuries while being taken into custody.
In the charges assessment guidelines, BCPS applies a two-part test to determine where there is a substantial likelihood of conviction and whether the public interest requires a prosecution.
While the evidence showed the officer intentionally applied force to the suspect without their permission, which met the definition of an assault causing bodily harm, as well as using the gun as a weapon. But the BCPS said some measure of force was necessary to protect the officers and make the arrest.
BCPS said the suspect showed “dangerous and unpredictable behaviour by attacking the officers.”
It was on July 22, 2021 that Vancouver Police were called to the downtown area, near Stanley Park, for a report of a man using a tree branch to vandalize windows, signs and vehicles along Robson Street, narrowly missing a man’s head when he was swinging the branch at people.
Two officers responded and they found the man in an ATM vestibule damaging the keypad with the branch.
The one officer, who was the subject of the IIO investigation, had a bean-bag gun and told the suspect to drop the branch. The officer fired three rounds at the man, who reportedly continued to advance toward the officers, striking the officer on the shoulder.
The two officers were ultimately able to get the suspect onto the ground, attempting to get to his hands. The subject officer ended up using the barrel of the gun to his the man in the head and upper body, “followed by a kick with his right leg in the same region.”
The second officer said they didn’t see a strike or kick by the other officer, but they “feared grievous bodily harm or death.”
An additional two officers arrived and they were able to handcuff the man.
B.C. Emergency Health Services were called to examine the suspect who had two lacerations near his left eye that required 10 sutures and a laceration on the left temporal region of his head that required six staples. He also suffered a fracture in his left hand and forearm where he was hit by the gun. He needed a cast.
Medical records showed the cuts by his eye were caused by the kick, while the injury to his head was in a “circular C-shape, consistent with the barrel” of the gun.
The suspect was a refugee who was unhoused at the time of the incident and he said he was angry with the government about his immigration status. His income support payments had been stopped, he had no money and he hadn’t eaten for some time, but he wasn’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
He said he was “waiting to be arrested” when he was shot with he gun, which hit him in the wrist and leg.