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B.C. IIO won’t be referring Okanagan traffic-stop case to Crown for possible charges

B.C.’s police oversight agency says it reviewed the evidence from a traffic stop in Lake Country last year, where the driver was injured following an interaction with police.
B.C.’s police oversight agency says it reviewed the evidence from a traffic stop in Lake Country last year, where the driver was injured following an interaction with police. Independent Investigations Office

The Independent Investigations Office of BC says it won’t be referring a case involving a traffic stop in the Central Okanagan last year to Crown counsel for possible charges.

On Tuesday, the IIO said it had looked into the incident in Lake Country on Sept. 11, 2020.

According to the IIO, police stopped a blue 2012 Mazda 3 on Highway 97 near Lodge Road. An interaction occurred during the traffic stop that resulted in the driver sustaining a serious injury.

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“The (IIO’s chief civilian director) has reviewed the evidence, including statements from an independent witness, the affected person, and police members involved, medical records, video sources, and police records, and determined that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that any officer has committed an offence,” the IIO said in a press release.

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“Accordingly, the matter will not be referred to Crown Counsel for consideration of charges. The IIO investigation is now concluded.”

Normally, the IIO includes incident details when releasing information to the public.

However, it said in this case, “due to concurrent court proceedings related to this incident, the IIO will not be issuing its usual public report until the conclusion of that court process.”

 

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According to court documents, Dustin Blondin said after being pulled over, he was instructed to remove anything of importance from the car.

 “The plaintiff began to remove from the car items of importance to his business,” said the statement of claim. “While the plaintiff was moving the items from his car, (Const. Julius Pommer) threw the plaintiff to the ground and handcuffed the plaintiff.”

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 The statement of claim continued, saying “while the plaintiff was writhing in pain, Pommer and his colleague threw the plaintiff face down into the pavement. Pommer did not offer any assistance to the plaintiff despite the fact that it was obvious that the plaintiff was in pain.

 “Pommer continued his unprovoked attack on the plaintiff by twisting the plaintiff’s hand until the bone in the centre of the plaintiff’s hand was broken.”

 The statement of claim said Blondin was taken into custody while in need of medical attention.

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 “In an attempt to cover for his recklessness and unlawful actions, Pommer charged the plaintiff with assault on a police officer and resisting arrest,” said the statement.

 “Upon being released by Pommer, the plaintiff attended Kelowna General Hospital where he underwent surgery to fix his broken arm. The plaintiff left the hospital with 10 screws in his hand and a metal plate.”

In response, the RCMP denied many parts of the civil claim, noting Blondin was pulled over for doing 100 km/h in a 70 km/h zone.

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 “Const. Pommer followed the Mazda and, based on the speed indicated on his own speedometer, observed the Mazda accelerate to approximately 140 km/h,” said the response.

 “Const. Pommer initiated a traffic stop by activating the emergency lights of his vehicle. The driver of the Mazda complied and gradually pulled over near Lodge Road.”

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 Police say Blondin failed to produce a driver’s licence, but that he showed a passport. He also failed to produce any vehicle documentation, but claimed he had just sold the Mazda to his mechanic and had permission to temporarily drive it.

 Police claim the vehicle was going to impounded for seven days, adding “the plaintiff angrily replied that he would not allow his car to be towed as he would need it for work.”

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 The RCMP response then went on to detail how Pommer requested that Blondin hand him the car key, with Blondin yelling at Pommer.

A second officer was called in, with Blondin eventually handing the car key over.

 The arrest happened after Blondin tried removing articles from his car, including a large wooden table. Police claim the officers asked him to leave it in the Mazda, but the plaintiff did not comply.

 “(The second constable) attempted to place the table back into the Mazda. The plaintiff resisted these efforts. After a brief struggle over the table, the plaintiff tried to kick (the constable), just barely missing him on the right side.

 “Upon observing this, Const. Pommer advised the plaintiff that he was under arrest for obstruction and assaulting a police officer.”

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 The RCMP’s response says Pommer tried handcuffing Blondin, but that he resisted, leading to a struggle. They also claim Blondin bit Pommer during another struggle over a cellphone.

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 “The RCMP defendants deny that Const. Pommer used excessive force in arresting the plaintiff, or otherwise, and say that any forced used by Const. Pommer against the plaintiff was reasonable and justified in law.”  

The IIO is an independent, civilian oversight agency of the police in B.C., and it investigates all officer-related incidents that result in serious harm or death, whether or not there is any allegation of wrongdoing.

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