The decision by a Calgary officer to sic a police dog on a teenager fleeing the scene of a break-and-enter last weekend is being questioned by the youth's lawyer.
A 14-year-old — who can't be named in order to protect his identity under the Youth Criminal Justice Act — is accused of stabbing Jester, a six-year-old German shepherd. The dog was taken to hospital and underwent surgery before being released to his handler's home to recover.
But the boy's lawyer —who says his client has no criminal record — will be looking into why the dog was used in the first place.
"As with any case involving the use of police force, we will be focused on the circumstances and the dangers that the Calgary Police Service officer was facing when he decided to release his dog on a fleeing youth," said Curtis Mennie.
"Unfortunately in this case we have a police dog biting into a youth who was fleeing an area."
Deployment makes 'no sense'
The teen was running away from officers and there seems to be no evidence violence was used by the suspect during the break-and-enter. Those two facts trouble criminal defence lawyer and legal expert Pawel Milczarek who says given what he knows, the deployment of the dog "makes no sense."
"You have to really question whether that's an appropriate use of force."
Police initially responded to a report of a suspected break-in at Grant MacEwan School in the city's northeast just before 2 a.m. on Sunday. The two underage suspects fled when officers arrived and Jester was sent after them.
The boy accused of stabbing Jester is charged with maiming an animal, break and enter, and possession of a weapon.
A 15-year-old suspect has also been charged with break and enter.
Self-defence argument possible
If the teen stabbed the dog because he was being bitten, Milczarek says that could open the door to a self-defence argument.
"It may be an involuntary response. When an animal is biting you, you may try any means to make it stop."
Police recently announced the boy was charged under Quanto's law, a new criminal code section named after an Edmonton police dog that was stabbed to death while chasing a suspect in 2013. But Mennie says although the charge could be amended at the next court appearance, right now his client faces a different charge that doesn't have to do with police animals.
Mennie is still awaiting disclosure from the prosecution. The matter is back in court on Sept. 7.