B.C.’s police watchdog will not recommend charges against a Kelowna Mountie in relation to a violent arrest and takedown involving a police dog Aug. 1, 2020.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that any officer involved in the incident committed an offence. The matter will not be referred to Crown Counsel for consideration of charges and the investigation has concluded.
The decision came after the IIO sought witnesses to a late-night incident that happened in Kelowna on Aug. 1, 2020. Kelowna Mounties were investigating the theft of an e-bike at approximately 10:18 p.m. when they located a male suspect on the Okanagan Rail Trail. The suspect had an interaction with a police service dog and his handler and sustained a serious dog-bite injury, according to the IIO. The man was taken to the hospital, where he underwent surgery.
“The IIO investigation concluded in April 2021. However, due to concurrent court proceedings related to this incident, the IIO did not issue any report at the time on the expectation court proceedings might be concluded in the near future,” wrote the IIO on Wednesday, Oct. 13.
The IIO will not comment any further as the matter is still winding its way through the justice system. A public report will be issued when court proceedings have finished.
Fernando Verde, the subject of the arrest, filed a lawsuit in October 2020 claiming that he was riding the bike that was stolen from his friend. Upon instruction from his friend, Verde hopped on the bike and rode away from the gas station, where he unknowingly was followed by RCMP.
Verde rode his bike towards the Rail Trail, where he eventually came into contact with Const. Reginald Sahay and his RCMP canine. Verde alleged that as soon as Sahay saw him, he instructed his dog to attack him. Verde claimed that he needed emergency surgery as a result of the attack. He also claimed he lost consciousness and had to be resuscitated at the hospital.