A Victoria Police canine handler has been cleared of wrongdoing after a suspect was bitten by a police dog in a downtown arrest earlier this year.
The Independent Investigations Office of B.C., which probes all police-involved incidents resulting in serious injury or death, issued its report Thursday on the Jan. 29, 2022 incident.
The IIO says police responded to a 911 call from a convenience store on Yates Street at 11:39 p.m. reporting that a man armed with a metal baton had robbed the business.
Two officers who were not subjects of the investigation found the man walking north on Quadra Street and saw he matched the suspect description and was carrying the steel baton.
The man, who later admitted to being impaired by an intoxicant, said he couldn’t remember exactly what happened next but believed that a police dog was deployed as he lay handcuffed on the ground, sustaining a bite to his head and on his buttock.
However IIO investigators found, through officers and witness testimony as well as witness video, that the police dog “was neither deployed for an extended period nor after [the suspect] was handcuffed.”
The man was provided first aid at the scene and was later transported to hospital, receiving 32 sutures for lacerations caused by the dog bites.
In regards to whether the use of force by the canine officer against the suspect was necessary and proportionate to the risk he posed, the IIO said it was not unreasonable for the two responding officers to believe that assistance from the canine handler and police dog was necessary.
“Likewise, it was not unreasonable for [the canine officer] to conclude that [the suspect], who was now uncontrolled and reaching into a pocket, potentially for another weapon, posed a real risk of bodily harm to an officer,” the IIO wrote.
“In those circumstances, deployment of the PSD to bite, while at the upper end of the range, was within the reasonable range of force options available to [the officer].”
Summarizing his report, IIO Chief Civilian Director Ronald McDonald said there were no reasonable grounds to believe the officer committed an offence and the matter would not be referred to Crown for possible charges.