File photo.

File photo.

A Vancouver Island RCMP officer has been exonerated in connection with a slow-speed moped chase in Duncan, two years after the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. recommended charges against him.

Const. David Buchanan was charged with dangerous driving causing bodily harm after a moped chase on Feb. 20, 2016. The driver was injured during the incident.

Buchanan’s actions during the chase were investigated by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIO). The office found Buchanan might have committed an offence and submitted a report to Crown counsel. Crown approved a charge of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

However, after a three-day preliminary inquiry in June, Judge Justine Saunders threw out the charges. In her decision, she also criticized the Crown.

“…the Crown has failed to introduce some evidence on all material elements of the offence that David Buchanan is charged with, to support a committal to trial as charged,” Saunders said in her decision.

According to court documents Buchanan, a member of the RCMP Integrated Road Safety Unit for Nanaimo to the north Malahat region, was driving an unmarked police vehicle when he saw a moped go by with no licence plates at around 10:50 p.m. in Duncan. Buchanan followed the moped and watched the driver go the wrong way down a street, run a stop sign and make a turn the wrong way. After Buchanan turned on his lights and siren, he followed the moped, appearing to try to pull him over. The moped driver did a U-turn then drove into a parking lot. At this point, several items fell from the moped including a lamp, a balaclava and a bottle of Fireball whisky.

The driver drove onto a concrete abutment onto a grassy area. He fell off, got back on the moped and cut across the path of the police vehicle. He appeared to lose control and fell against a fence. He then accelerated across the street and hit a fire hydrant in a grassy area, falling again and breaking his ankle.

The incident was recorded on the officer’s front and back dashcam.

Saunders said in the decision that there was no evidence to support claims by the moped driver, Bryce McKay, that the police cruiser struck his moped repeatedly. McKay also testified that after he fell the final time, the police officer got out of the police vehicle, ran up to him and kicked him in the face mask of his helmet, pulled the helmet off and then started hitting him in the face, pulling his goggles off and punching him in the nose six to eight times.

According to Saunders, the testimony was not consistent with the video, which shows no impact between the police vehicle and the moped, and McKay was not a credible witness.

“The court finds that Mr. McKay’s evidence is not supported by the video on which the Crown relies for some evidence to commit. Furthermore, there is no reliable Crown evidence there was a collision.”

The moped was stolen and the ignition was punched out so it could be started without a key. McKay is also awaiting trial for charges in connection with the incident, including dangerous driving, evading a peace officer and possession of stolen property. He was on probation with a curfew of 11 p.m. that night.

With files from the Times Colonist 

Alexa Huffman