An Okanagan man has launched a civil claim against two RCMP officers, stating he was attacked by a police dog while recovering a friend’s stolen bike and that he suffered severe injuries, including having to be resuscitated.
In court documents that were filed in Kelowna Supreme Court on Friday, Fernando Verde claims he was brutally assaulted by an officer and the dog in the Kelowna incident on Aug, 1, 2020.
The civil claim says Verde was walking through Rutland and spotted a friend’s stolen e-bike outside a gas station, along with an individual known to be a bike thief named Bike Mike.
Verde says Bike Mike left the stolen e-bike outside the gas station, prompting him to take it and ride away on instructions from his friend.
“Upon leaving the gas station and unknown to the plaintiff, the police were in the parking lot at the time that the plaintiff was riding away from the gas station,” said the civil claim.
“Unbeknownst to the plaintiff, the police began to follow him.”
Verde pedalled his way to a bike trail on Hardie Road, then came into contact with Const. Reginald Sahay and his police dog.
“Upon seeing the plaintiff, Sahay instructed the dog to attack the plaintiff,” said civil claim. “As a result of the altercation with the dog, the plaintiff fell off the e-bike and landed on the ground.
“Sahay instructed the dog to continue to attack the plaintiff. The dog mauled the plaintiff while he was on the ground. While the dog was mauling the plaintiff, Sahay was punching and kicking the plaintiff in the head and ribs at the same time.”
During the attack, the claim says another constable arrived, but did not stop or interfere while Verde was being mauled, kicked and punched. In fact, it said the other officer was indifferent to the plaintiff’s suffering.
“As a result of the vicious attack by the dog and Sahay, the plaintiff was bleeding profusely and was badly in need of medical attention,” said the claim.
It said despite the plaintiff’s obvious injuries, police did not call for an ambulance immediately, though they did eventually call for one.
The claim said the plaintiff arrived at Kelowna General Hospital with significant hypotension (low blood pressure) and was bleeding from multiple dog bites.
“The plaintiff’s injuries were so severe that he lost consciousness and had to be resuscitated at KGH and had emergency surgery to repair his left superficial femoral artery,” said the claim.
“The plaintiff was kept in KGH for intravenous antibiotic therapy and aggressive wound care. The plaintiff lost a significant amount of blood.”
Notably, the claim said Verde was never charged with any criminal offences, adding he also had his charter rights breached, stating Sahay did not ask any questions before instructing the dog to attack.
“The RCMP officers detained the plaintiff without advising him of the reasons for his detention,” said the claim.
On Aug. 2, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. posted a media released, stating it was seeking witnesses to a late-night police incident in Kelowna.
“Kelowna RCMP report that on Saturday, August 1 at 10:18 p.m., police investigated the theft of a battery-assisted mountain bike,” said the IIO.
“Officers located a male suspect on the Rail Trail – a pedestrian/bike trail at (Hardie Road). While on the trail, the suspect had an interaction with a police service dog and his handler, and sustained a serious dog-bite injury.
“The man was taken to Kelowna General Hospital, where he underwent surgery.”
The IIO asked that anyone who witnessed the incident to call their witness line at 1-855-446-8477.
“The actions of the Kelowna RCMP were reckless, arrogant, high-handed, abusive, and showed a callous disregard for the plaintiff’s rights,” said the claim.
“The plaintiff, therefore, seeks punitive and exemplary damages against the Kelowna RCMP.”
Global News has reached out to the Kelowna RCMP for comment.
None of the claims have been proven in court.