Police watchdog says charges possible after in-custody death, alleged video deletion
Two years after a man died in the custody of Prince George RCMP, the province's police watchdog says it's ready to submit a report to Crown counsel for possible charges.
The man suffered breathing problems after police sprayed him with pepper spray on the night of July 18, 2017, and he died shortly after paramedics arrived to provide medical assistance.
The Independent Investigations Office said the officers involved were responding to a report of someone "casing vehicles" on the street, and that a struggle ensued when they tried to arrest him.
Unlike policing agencies in the province, the IIO does not recommend charges following its investigations, but will forward its findings to the B.C. Prosecution Service if the chief civilian director finds there's reasonable grounds to believe an offence occurred.
In this case, the IIO said its report focuses on "issues surrounding the use of force during the struggle with the male and in relation to allegations of obstruction of justice in relation to the deletion of video from a civilian phone."
The IIO's statement is the first time allegations that anyone deleted video have been publicly raised in the case. The watchdog said it will not be providing any further details while the matter is with the Crown.
It will be up to the B.C. Prosecution Service to determine whether to lay charges, a decision based on both the likelihood of conviction and whether it believes it's in the public interest to pursue the case.