British Columbia

Police dog bit off most of bystander's ear during mistaken identity takedown

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has released a report on a 2016 police chase in which a Vancouver Police Department dog attacked a bystander caught up in the drama.

Officer involved in 2016 incident was cleared; details released after court cases end

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has released a report into a 2016 police dog incident in which a bystander lost a portion of his left ear. (CBC)

Details of how a bystander mistaken for a murder suspect was savaged by a police dog in 2016 are now public.

A report released by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. on Thursday describes how Vick Supramaniam was taken down by officers and attacked by a police dog — which bit off most of his left ear — when he accidentally became entangled in a high-stakes police chase in a double homicide case.

The IIOBC announced last summer that officers would not face charges as a result of the incident, but withheld its public report until the matter had concluded in the courts.

Last month, six men were convicted of manslaughter in the execution-style deaths of Samantha Le and Xuan Van Vy Ba-Cao. Their bodies had been discovered in East Vancouver two days before the September 2016 chase occurred. A third man was kidnapped, beaten and subjected to extortion.

Supramaniam — who was identified by Pivot Legal Society, which took up his cause shortly after the incident — was driving a blue Mazda along East 8th Avenue in New Westminster, B.C., when his misfortune began.

According to the IIOBC, Supramaniam saw a white Acura approaching, "skidding left and right, with police vehicles in pursuit."

Police had earlier seen three suspects and a man believed to be a hostage in the Acura driving from Surrey.

Supramaniam told civilian investigators that he pulled his car over, trying to avoid a collision, but the Acura collided with the driver's side of his car. Police also struck the Acura, causing a second impact.

Supramaniam, who is referred to only as "Affected Person" or "AP" in the IIOBC report, managed to get out of his car on the passenger side.

Once outside, he said he heard bangs or shots and "went all the way flat on the floor," before crawling behind a bus stop bench next to New Westminster's Sunset Park. He said he saw an officer throw a "flash bang" and took cover.

"The next minute I knew after that ... the dog was attacking me, on my body and everything," he told investigators.

According to the report, police and civilian witnesses said Supramaniam ran away from officers "for some distance" before he was taken down by the police dog.

Officers told him to stay down, while he repeated that he was innocent — that he had in fact been driving the Mazda.

The incident on Sept. 19, 2016, took place at Sunset Park in New Westminster. (Google Streetview)

One civilian witness told investigators she saw a man being dragged down a slope by the police dog, and handcuffed by an officer who referred to the man as a "bag of shit."

An officer told investigators he noticed the police dog had a hold of Supramaniam.

The officer "approached and delivered two knee strikes to AP's body, and assisted in handcuffing him," the report reads.

The report describes Supramaniam's injuries from multiple dog bites, including lacerations on his shoulder and both thighs.

"The most serious injury was the loss of most of his left ear. He was reported to require follow up with a plastic surgeon and a possible prosthesis," said the report.

Civilian investigators determined that, "the consequences for AP were very serious and personally distressing," but given the circumstances, the force used against Supramaniam "was within the range that can be considered reasonable and proportional."


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About the Author

Rafferty Baker is CBC Vancouver's mobile journalist. Follow him @raffertybaker

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