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B.C. RCMP officer who shot man after being bear sprayed won’t face criminal charges

The Prince George RCMP detachment is seen in this photo from its Facebook page. (Facebook/PrinceGeorgeRCMP) The Prince George RCMP detachment is seen in this photo from its Facebook page. (Facebook/PrinceGeorgeRCMP)

An officer who shot a man in the booking area of the Prince George RCMP detachment last year will not face criminal charges, according to B.C.'s police watchdog.

In July of 2022, the man was shot in the groin after he deployed bear spray while he was in the process of being lodged in a cell, says a report issued Friday by the Independent Investigations Office.

The bear spray had been seized by officers when the man, referred to as AP throughout the report, was arrested and searched after "fleeing from police who were investigating him on suspicion of shoplifting."

In addition to the canister of bear spray, AP had two knives and a pellet gun, according to the report, which notes the man was able to access the bear spray because of where the police put the weapons after they were confiscated.

"The practice of police placing seized weapons on an unsecured shelf within easy reach of detainees can certainly be criticized as sloppy and risky, to say the least," wrote Ron MacDonald, the IIO's civilian director, who ultimately found the use of force was reasonable and justified in the circumstances.

The incident was partially captured on video by a surveillance camera, showing AP standing at the booking counter, the report explains.

"His handcuffs have been removed. He leans forward on the counter, then reaches over it and grabs the can of bear spray from the unsecure shelf behind and below the counter. He then immediately begins spraying through the open window into the area behind the counter," it says, adding that the video also shows AP "falling to the floor, apparently wounded."

AP admitted to investigators that he aimed the spray at SO, according to the report.

"I didn't give it any thought. It just happened," AP is quoted as saying.

An assault with bear spray, MacDonald notes, would not usually rise to the level of threat that would justify the use of lethal force.

"The circumstances of this case were not 'the usual,'" he writes.

"In the few moments over which the incident occurred, SO found himself with impaired vision and retreating from an unexpected and completely irrational attack by a person who had other weapons within easy reach. There were unarmed civilians within the same enclosed area, and there was little if anything to prevent AP from climbing or jumping over the counter and posing a serious threat to them."

After reviewing all the evidence available to him. MacDonald said he would not be forwarding a report to Crown counsel for consideration of criminal charges. Top Stories

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