British Columbia

3 RCMP officers criminally charged over 2016 Prince George takedown caught on video

Three RCMP officers have been criminally charged over a violent arrest in in an alley in Prince George in 2016 that was captured on a backyard security camera.

Officers remain on duty after charges of assault causing bodily harm and obstruction of justice

Three RCMP officers have been criminally charged over an allegedly violent arrest in 2016. The National Police Federation says the investigation shouldn't have taken 50 months. (CBC)

Three RCMP officers have been criminally charged, four years after a violent arrest in a Prince George alley that was captured by a backyard security camera.

Now, Const. Joshua Grafton is charged with assault, assault with a weapon and obstruction of justice. 

Const. Wayne Connell and Const. Kyle Sharpe are charged with assault causing bodily harm.

The three Prince George officers have been charged just 10 days after B.C.'s police watchdog asked Crown to consider charges against 5 Prince George RCMP officers in the unrelated police custody death  of Dale Culver in 2017.

All eight officers in both incidents remain on active duty, according to Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet, senior media relations officer with RCMP's E Division.

"The officers' fitness to continue to be on active duty has been assessed. We are confident they can continue their duties in a manner that is safe and meets public expectation," Shoihet told CBC News after the charges were announced. 

Police have said the February 18, 2016, case, in which the three Prince George Mounties are now charged, involved two suspects in a  stolen truck who were evading arrest.

That arrest was captured by a backyard security camera. The footage shows snow falling in a dark alley, before a truck is boxed in by police.

The  arrest that follows is flood-lit by the headlights of an RCMP cruiser.

The surveillance video appears to show a man pulled from the truck by RCMP working with a police dog. After the man exits the truck, the dog lunges at him, and an officer appears to strike the man while he is on the ground.

A second man in the vehicle is pulled from the passenger side and appears to be stomped and kicked by officers.

Cuyler Aubichon said he was injured during his arrest in a back alley in 2016. (CBC)

The same day the video was made public, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. sent investigators to Prince George, at the request of the RCMP. 

The lawyer for one of the men arrested called for police officers to be charged. 

Liam Cooper, acting as an agent for lawyer Jason Lebond, told CBC in 2016, " We'd like to know for the citizens in Prince George if what we see in this video is acceptable police conduct."

The three officers are scheduled to appear in provincial court in Prince George on Aug. 12. 

The RCMP says the officers have faced internal code of conduct hearings but won't reveal the outcome, due to privacy policy.

Three Mounties from Prince George RCMP are facing criminal charges over their role in the 2016 takedown. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

Meanwhile, the federation that represents about 20,000 RCMP officers across Canada is upset the IIO and crown took 50 months to investigate and lay charges against the Prince George Mounties.

Brian Sauvé ,president of the National Police Federation,  says that process took more than 4 years, despite the fact the two suspects officers stopped "thankfully sustained only minor injuries and ultimately pleaded guilty to the charges for which they were pursued and arrested."

He says the Prince George officers charged now face more years of uncertainty as they await trial and a verdict.

"These RCMP Members have continued to serve their communities diligently and professionally while this protracted investigation took place," Sauvé said.. 

Sauvé said his members support police oversight and a thorough investigation of all complaints against the RCMP..

But he says the process must be quicker and more transparent.

"The brave men and women who stand up to protect Canadians from those that would do them harm deserve better than to be subjected to a prolonged four-and-a-half year investigation," said Sauvé.

 

 

 

About the Author

Betsy Trumpener

Reporter-Editor, CBC News

Betsy Trumpener has won numerous national and provincial journalism awards, including a national network award for radio documentary. Based out of Prince George, B.C., Betsy has reported on everything from hip hop in Tanzania to B.C.'s energy industry and the Paralympics.

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