A VicPD canine handler has been cleared of wrongdoing after a robbery suspect was bitten by a police dog in a downtown Victoria in late January.
The incident occurred at around 11:40 p.m. on January 29th, when officers were called to a report of a robbery at a convenience store at the intersection of Yates and Quadra Streets.
Two officers, who were not subjects of the investigation, found a man matching the description near the intersection of Quadra Street and Pandora Avenue.
Both officers said he matched the suspect description and was carrying the steel baton.
According to the IIO report, the two officers struggled to apprehend the man as he resisted complying with them, and a third officer—who is the subject of the investigation—released the police dog which bit the man in the head and then upper leg area near the buttock.
According to IIO, the man admitted to being impaired by an intoxicant and had been feeling “high”, and couldn’t remember exactly what happened—but said he believed that the police dog was deployed as he lay handcuffed on the ground.
Through officer and witness testimony as well as witness video, IIO investigators determined that the police dog was neither deployed for an extended period or while the the suspect was handcuffed.
The man was treated on scene before being transported to hospital, receiving 32 sutures for lacerations caused by the dog bites.
In the report, IIO chief civilian director Ronald MacDonald went on to speak on whether the use of force by the canine officer was necessary, and cited several factors on why it was not unreasonable for the two responding officers to request assistance from the canine handler and police dog.
While it was determined that the suspect reaching under his body while resisting arrest wasn’t sufficient reason to deploy the dog, other factors in the incident supported the cause for the canine to be released; such as the suspect already using a weapon during the robbery as well as refusing to drop the weapon when officers ordered him to (an officer kicked it out of his hand).
It was later determined he had a utility knife in his possession.
“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,” McDonald wrote in his report.
“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].”
Based on those details, 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.
The full report can be read here.