Three men in British Columbia are demanding an investigation into what they claim was a nightmarish case of mistaken identity after they were allegedly beaten by RCMP officers and bitten by a police dog in a raid last year.
A senior RCMP officer in the province has apologized for a Nov. 7, 2008, raid on a Surrey apartment building, in which members of the force's emergency response team smashed in a number of doors, including that of Iranian refugee Emad Hovaizavi.
On Monday, the three men will ask the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, an independent agency created by Parliament, to examine what happened.
In signed statements, Hovaizavi and two friends with him at the time, Seyedmorteza Ghadiriasli and Mohammed Bosir, said police smashed his front door open and demanded the residents of apartment 206 to come out.
But they were in apartment 205 and told the officers that.
Hovaizavi said with no warning, he felt the crunch of his bones as a police dog bit into his leg and dragged him out of the apartment.
"I was in pure terror. I screamed," Hovaizavi said in his statement. "I did not know what was happening."
The dog took Bosir out of the apartment the same way and also bit Ghadiriasli in the arm, the men said in their statements.
"The phrase that keeps on going through my head is, 'Shoot first and ask questions later,'" said Craig Costantino, the lawyer who represents the men.
Costantino told CBC News that when all three were in the hall, they were surrounded by officers in black masks and bulletproof vests.
He said all three were beaten while they were being subdued in handcuffs.
"They certainly have bruises and abrasions to show it," Costantino said.
Looking for guns
In his statement, Hovaizavi said he was bitten again by the dog, and was told to shut up when he tried to explain to the officers they had the wrong apartment.
He said police eventually told him they were looking for guns. All of the men suffered injuries and Hovaizavi spent the night in hospital. None was charged.
The recent refugee said the incident reawakened experiences he suffered at the hands of security police in Iran.
The RCMP has admitted it had no search warrant for the apartment — only for two other units in the building, 201 and 206. None of the men have criminal records or any previous dealings with the RCMP, according to their complaint.
The men's lawyer said Supt. Wayne Rideout, the operations officer for the Surrey RCMP detachment, has offered his apologies and launched an investigation.
But Costantino said he believes a criminal investigation is warranted, as no explanation of the incident has been provided.
"We aren't content to allow the RCMP to investigate this themselves," he said.
Rideout couldn't be reached for comment, but is expected to speak on another issue on Monday. He has been subpoenaed to testify at the inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski, the Polish immigrant who died in 2007 after a confrontation at Vancouver airport with four RCMP officers, in which they discharged a Taser stun gun at him five times.