B.C.’s police watchdog has sent a report to Crown Counsel for the consideration of charges against five RCMP officers for their role in a Prince George man’s death three years ago.
In July 2017, officers responded to reports of a man apparently casing parked cars on Central Street West near 8 Avenue, the Independent Investigation Office said Friday.
The man fled on a bicycle when police said they tried to question him, and a struggle ensued as they tried to take him into custody and more officers were called to the scene.
Mounties eventually used pepper spray to subdue him.
He developed trouble breathing and asked for help, but collapsed when an an ambulance arrived at the scene, the IIO said.
The man — identified to CKNW by his girlfriend as Dale Culver — was pronounced dead shortly after.
The IIO is asking the B.C. Prosecution Service to consider charges related to use of force against two of the officers and obstruction of justice against three others.
Last year, it had recommended charges against four officers and said the obstruction of justice charges were in relation to allegations that officers deleted civilians’ cell phone footage of the incident.
The IIO clarified that Friday’s update involved the same four officers against whom charges were already recommended, and added a fifth officer.
The police watchdog had put out a call for witnesses shortly after the incident.
“The IIO believes a large number of people witnessed this incident, and some captured the interaction between police and the male on mobile phones,” it said in a 2017 news release.
“The IIO also believes several vehicles were in the parking lot at the time and that occupants witnessed this incident from nearby.”
In 2017, CKNW obtained video of the incident.
At one point, a lone officer has Culver on the ground. Other photos show at least four officers pinning the man down.
Culver’s girlfriend, Alicia Wisla, told CKNW then that the video raised serious questions about the officers’ conduct.
“That’s too many freakin cops, for someone who was allegedly looking at vehicles. We don’t even know if he really was,” she said in 2017.
She said the officers involved should be behind bars.
“They shouldn’t be able to go back to their homes, thinking it’s just another day at work.”
— With files from Charmaine De Silva and Simon Little