Pelley 'grateful' after jury acquits constable on dangerous driving charge

Top cop 'grateful' for verdict

Court exhibit

The officer in charge of the Kamloops RCMP detachment says he was “grateful” this week after a jury acquitted one of his constables following a dangerous driving trial.

It took jurors less than three hours of deliberations on Monday to find RCMP Const. Christopher Squire not guilty on a single count of dangerous driving. The 33-year-old Mountie was charged in connection with a Dec. 8, 2018, high-speed chase that reached speeds of 140 km/h on Westsyde Road.

Kamloops RCMP Supt. Jeff Pelley, the commander of the local detachment, was in court Monday for the jury’s verdict and he was the first to shake Squire’s hand and congratulate him outside court.

“RCMP members are subject to the same laws as all of our Canadian citizens,” Pelley told Castanet Kamloops.

“So, in this case, the jury trial occurred and examined the full details of what transpired, and basically came to the outcome that an officer wasn’t guilty of breaking those laws, and that’s the decision they rendered.

“I was grateful to see that, as our officers have a difficult job and when they are focused on those types of incidents they have to make very quick decisions.”

At trial, the jury heard Squire was one of a handful of Mounties involved in the chase. He and another constable could be seen in a video played in court continuing to pursue the subject vehicle — a stolen Ford pickup truck — even after their watch commander ordered them to stop.

The pursuit was also contrary to RCMP policy, which categorizes the offences of vehicle theft, possession of stolen property and flight from police as “non-pursuable.”

The chase ended in dramatic fashion when Squire intentionally ran the truck off the road using a precision immobilization technique — also known as a PIT maneuver.

Court heard the RCMP does not train its officers on the maneuver. Despite that, Pelley said the technique is a tool Mounties can use on the road.

“Although it’s not expressly prohibited by policy or law, we don’t train for the use of the PIT maneuver,” he said.

“With any response, officers must use the totality of the circumstances and determine whether a tactic or use of force is reasonable and necessary when considering the safety of the general public and police officers.”

Pelley also said he had no problem with on-duty officers supporting Squire in court and giving him rides to his trial in marked police vehicles.

“Many officers, especially those that worked directly with him, were sympathetic to the situation and the stress it creates,” he said.

“So I’m sure it was a way of them showing some support, and I don’t have concerns with them attending the trial or giving the officer a ride to court.”

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