Watchdog finds no wrongdoing after Saanich man injured by police canine during mental health call

British Columbia’s police watchdog has cleared officers of any wrongdoing after a man was seriously injured last year when he was apprehended by a member of the Saanich Canine Integrated Service.

In October last year, members of the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) arrested a Saanich man, who was experiencing a mental health crisis, and locked himself in the home he shared with his parents in a stand-off that lasted more than eight hours. During the arrest, an officer deployed a police dog that bit the man multiple times, causing extensive injuries that required surgery.

In a ruling released Tuesday (Nov. 8), B.C.’s Independent Investigative Office (IIO) found that while the man was seriously injured, law enforcement did nothing to warrant charges against Crown.

Just before 10pm on October 30, 2021, the Vancouver Island Crisis Line received a call from someone who said her son (identified as AP in the IIO report) needed to go to the hospital because he had mental health issues.

The officer dispatched to the residence was told the AP was “in a psychotic state” and walked around the house with a “fake gun” with a six-inch blade in his belt. Officials were also told of the AP’s criminal record, including a previous assault on a police officer, and told he would not respond well to the presence of police officers.

“Police records show that the AP has a long criminal record several years ago, including serious violence. It is also understood that in addition to the imitation gun that the AP was reported to be in possession of that night, he was said to have Also in possession of a real gun,” the report said.

When the first police arrived on the scene, they came up with a “surrender plan” that included ordering AP to return empty-handed, hands up, and ordering him to lie on the ground.

At 10:54 p.m., the AP left the house and was ordered to “get down” by police. He refused and re-entered the house. In addition to GVERT, two crisis negotiators were subsequently called in to deal with the escalating situation.

Over the course of several hours, GVERT members made numerous attempts to apprehend AP, including detonating noise flash diversion devices, deploying tear gas and pepper spray, and firing ARWEN (riot weapon ENfield) several times.

At 7:50 a.m., police decided to enter and arrest the AP after they heard him cry on the phone that had dropped him earlier. Police entered the house and went to the AP’s bedroom, where they found him lying on his back. One officer reportedly shouted repeatedly that AP could be bitten by a police dog if he didn’t follow orders.

The dog was released shortly after, before biting the AP in the left armpit and pulling it towards the officer. He was then handcuffed and taken to hospital where he was treated for serious injuries to his left bicep and armpit area.

In the ruling, IIO chief civilian officer Ronald MacDonald wrote that officials, acting in accordance with the law under B.C.’s Mental Health Act, had no choice but to have after all other tactics failed. to force entry into the home.

“There is ample evidence that he is a person with a mental disorder who may behave in a manner that may endanger his own safety or that of others,” MacDonald wrote. “Furthermore, based on AP’s history of violence and mental instability, as well as his current threatening behavior and possession of weapons, ERT’s deployment is justified given legitimate concerns; the situation has escalated beyond initial action to control the residence. the capabilities of a general duty officer.”

MacDonald added that while the severity of the AP’s injuries is regrettable, there is no evidence the police committed any crime.

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BCSaanich Police Department Independent Investigation Office

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