AN RCMP dog section officer will not face criminal charges for a December 2012 incident in which his police dog bit and injured a suspect during an arrest in North Vancouver.
The B.C. Criminal Justice Branch had been reviewing the case since June when the civilian Independent Investigations Office of B.C. completed its investigation and concluded an offence may have taken place.
Officers responded to the Scotiabank on Lonsdale Avenue at 14th Street on Dec. 13 last year after staff reported someone trying to use false ID in the bank. Suspect Patrick Umbach fled before officers could nab him, so police set up a roadblock and called in the canine unit.
The police dog picked up his scent and led officers to a bush on Chesterfield Avenue at 14th where Umbach was attempting to hide.
The dog then crawled under the bush, bit Umbach on the thigh and held on until officers pulled him off.
But with no proof that the dog section officer involved used excessive force, there was no likelihood of winning an assault conviction in court, the Crown concluded on Wednesday.
"The available evidence does not establish that the use of the dog in this incident was outside of normal RCMP training and standards for competent dog handling. It appears that the police services dog engaged the suspect on its own volition without command of the dog handler," the report from Crown states. "Notwithstanding the significant injury to the suspect, the evidence is not capable of establishing that deploying the dog constituted an unreasonable and excessive use of force in this incident."
The case was reviewed by a prosecutor outside the Lower Mainland to avoid any suggestion the Crown may be in conflict of interest.
Umbach had to be rushed to Lions Gate Hospital for emergency surgery following the arrest. Police originally charged him with fraud, impersonation, identity theft, resisting arrest and using forged documents with victims across the country. Umbach later pled guilty in North Vancouver provincial court to one count of identity theft and received a one-year jail sentence followed by two years probation upon release.
This is the first case the Independent Investigation Office had been called to investigate on the North Shore. Since then, the civilian-led body is looking into a July 6 incident in which a woman received a facial injury while West Vancouver police took her into custody at Horseshoe Bay and a July 14 arrest in North Vancouver that resulted in a suspect being hospitalized with a serious shoulder injury following his arrest.
The province set up the Independent Investigations Offi ce to investigate all police incidents that resulted in death or serious injury after years of criticism that police should not investigate themselves.
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