A Terrace RCMP officer seen in a video apparently hitting a youth who’s handcuffed and facedown on a downtown sidewalk is one step closer to possibly facing charges.
The Independent Investigation Office (IIO), a civilian body that investigates police-related incidents of death or serious harm to determine whether an officer may have committed an offence, has finished its investigation and has forwarded its findings to the Criminal Justice Branch of the provincial government.
“We will be referring the case to the Criminal Justice Branch, which is the protocol when the Chief Civilian Director of the IIO finds that an officer may have committed an offence,” said IIO official Marten Youssef today.
Taken just before 10 p.m. May 28, 2014, the video shows an officer physically restraining a male person who is on the ground in front of a business on Lazelle Ave.
The person is on his stomach on the ground and appears to be showing no resistance.
The video shows several blows being administered to the back of the head of the person, one after the person was handcuffed with his arms behind his back.
The video was first provided Sept. 25, 2014 to The Terrace Standard by an acquaintance of the person who filmed it and the newspaper does not know who filmed the video.
The officer was placed on administrative duty for the time being, meaning he is not on patrol duty.
The other two officers present at the time remained on active duty.
After viewing the video Oct. 7, 2014, Inspector Dana Hart, the commanding officer of the Terrace RCMP detachment, asked the IIO to step in and also ordered an internal RCMP investigation into the incident.
He stressed that the two investigations are independent of each other.
While Hart said the video, approximately two minutes in length, did not capture the specific chain of events leading to the arrest, he did say officers were responding to a 911 call.
“There was a call about a fight between a male and a female on the 4700 block of Lazelle, behind the theatre,” said Hart. “There were two individuals and both were taken into custody.”
The male did face charges after the arrest and at the time was under the age of 18 so he was not identified.
An investigator with the IIO reviewed the file initially and then sent it to its chief civilian director for a decision.
That person reviews all of the evidence and decides if an officer may have committed an offence and if so, then forwards the file to Crown lawyers for a charge assessment.
In approving charges, Crown lawyers within the Criminal Justice Branch must be satisfied not only that an offence may have been committed, but also that the offence can be proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt.
A two-part is used to make that determination – the substantial likelihood of a conviction and that a prosecution must be required in the public interest.
Under these circumstances IIO policy is not to issue a public report and not to provide further information.
If the civilian director decides no offence had been committed then a public report appears on the IIO website.