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RCMP officers 'refused' to provide evidence to Crown to assist drug, firearms prosecution: report

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Crown counsel was unable to approve "significant" drug and weapons charges stemming from an arrest in Quesnel, B.C., last year because the officers involved "refused to provide any evidence," according to a report from the province’s police watchdog.

The Independent Investigations Office was called in to probe the incident because the man who was arrested suffered a serious injury, specifically fractures to both bones in one of his arms. The IIO's report was released Wednesday and found no reasonable grounds to believe that the officers involved committed a criminal offence, but did refer the matter to the RCMP's Professional Standards Section.

"Crown counsel attempting to conduct a prosecution on firearms and drug charges was prevented from doing so by the failure of two involved officers to comply with their duty to prepare and file police notes and reports about such a serious incident," wrote Ronald MacDonald, chief civilian investigator, concluding his report.

The arrest occurred on March 10, 2023, when members of the RCMP's anti-gang unit were in Quesnel "assisting local police dealing with an increase in violent crime," according to the IIO. As part of a morning briefing, officers at the local detachment were shown a photo of the man who would ultimately end up being arrested that day and told he was "associated with criminal activity" and "prohibited from driving." The man is referred to as the affected person, or "AP," throughout the report.

When AP was seen driving a pickup truck in the city, officers tried to conduct a traffic stop. A pursuit of AP ended in a cul-de-sac where the two officers – each driving a separate police vehicle – "rammed" the pickup. The report describes what AP told the IIO.

"The first impact came as a surprise, he said, and caused him to be thrown out of the pickup onto the ground. He said he reached up with his right hand to pull himself up when there was a second impact, and his arm was pinched between the door and the truck body," it reads, also saying the evidence generally supported this version of events, which MacDonald noted was different than what police initially said.

"The notification to the IIO stated at one point that AP was injured when he attempted to flee but 'slipped on the icy ground.' The PRIME report sent to Crown in support of criminal charges against AP stated only that he was injured when he 'fell to the ground.'"

The Quesnel RCMP does not appear to have issued a media release or public statement that mentioned the man's injury or the IIO notification. However, a statement published on March 13, 2023, describes an incident where a suspect who fled from a traffic stop in a pickup was arrested at the same time and in the same place.

"The vehicle was disabled after a collision with two police vehicles. The driver was apprehended and found in possession of drugs and an SKS rifle. The investigation is ongoing," the statement reads.

MacDonald's report says police recommended that AP be charged with several driving offences as well as criminal charges related to narcotics and firearms that were found during a search of the pickup. However, MacDonald said, Crown did not approve any charges because of the officers' refusal to provide evidence.

Regarding the use of force during the arrest, MacDonald said: "while it might not have been the most prudent expenditure of police resources, it cannot be said that it amounted to a criminal offence."

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