Manitoba

Officers cleared of wrongdoing in arrest of man who allegedly stole truck with 3-year-old girl inside

Manitoba's police watchdog has cleared four officers of wrongdoing in the July 2018 arrest of a man who sustained fractured ribs after crashing into the back of another vehicle during a police chase. He also was bitten by a police dog while being taken in.

Suspect was arrested, taken to hospital to be treated for dog bites, fractured ribs

Manitoba's police watchdog says RCMP officers did not exceed their duties or commit any offences when they arrested a man who allegedly stole a truck with a three-year-old girl inside, sparking a police chase near Flin Flon, Man., in July 2018. (Daniel Igne-Jajalla/CBC)

Manitoba's police watchdog has cleared four officers of wrongdoing in the July 2018 arrest of a man who sustained fractured ribs after the pickup he was driving crashed into the back of another vehicle during a police chase, and then was bitten by a police dog.

The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, which investigates all serious incidents involving police in the province, released its final report on the incident on Wednesday.

On July 31, 2018, a woman stopped her pickup truck at a convenience store on Main Street in Creighton, Sask., which is about two kilometres northeast of Flin Flon, Man., the report says. The woman left the truck unlocked and running with her three-year-old daughter strapped in a car seat while she went into the store.

Shortly after entering the store, the woman looked outside and saw her truck backing out of the parking lot with her daughter still inside. The woman ran after the truck, but couldn't catch up as the driver sped away, the report says.

The woman called Creighton RCMP, and a pursuit involving three RCMP vehicles, 19 officers and a spike belt ensued.

After driving over the belt just north of Cranberry Portage (about 40 kilometres southeast of Flin Flon), the truck kept driving for 20 kilometres until it rear-ended another vehicle and the driver ran into nearby bushes, the report says. 

The three-year-old girl was not injured and was reunited with her family who arrived at the scene, the report says.

Officers set up a perimeter around the area, and a police dog eventually found a suspect hiding in a nearby residence. Police assessed the situation as high-risk, and sent a police dog in after the suspect when he did not respond to an officer's orders to come out of the building, the report says.

Dog bites, fractured ribs

The man was arrested and taken to hospital in Flin Flon, where he was treated for dog bites. During his examination, medical staff told an officer the man had damaged ribs and possible internal injuries, likely the result of either the collision or a separate incident, the report says.

Because a fractured rib is considered a serious injury, the police watchdog was mandated to investigate.

Watchdog investigators collected RCMP officers' notes and narrative reports, police radio transmissions, scene photographs, 10 civilian witness interviews and in-car video recordings.

Zane Tessler, the watchdog's civilian director, said in the report the evidence gathered shows the officers involved in the incident did not exceed their duties in chasing the truck, using a spike belt or sending a police dog in to detain the suspect.

Tessler also said he was satisfied that the evidence supports the conclusion that the rear-end collision was the suspect's fault.

"I am also satisfied that when [the suspect] was located following his flight from the collision, he was not prepared to surrender to police or comply with their direction to stop," Tessler wrote.

"It is evident that [the suspect] was intent on avoiding capture. He would continue to flee from police unless properly restrained."

The evidence does not support laying charges against any of the officers involved, Tessler said.

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