No charges against Kelowna Mounties after bloody arrest using police dog

No charges for bloody arrest

B.C.'s police watchdog will not be recommending charges against a Kelowna Mountie in relation to a violent arrest and takedown that nearly claimed the life of the suspect.

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of BC says RCMP officers were investigating an alleged theft of an e-bike on Aug. 1, 2020 at about 10:15 p.m. when they came across the suspect on the Rail Trail near Hardy Street.

"There was an interaction between the man, an RCMP police service dog and the dog handler, and the man suffered a serious dog bite injury," the IIO described the arrest.

The man was taken to hospital for treatment of serious injuries.

The IIO said Wednesday the evidence shows no reasonable grounds to believe any officer committed an offence, so the matter will not be referred to the Crown for charges. The IIO wrapped up its investigation in April 2021, but stayed quiet due to concurrent court proceedings related to the arrest.

"The IIO did not issue any report at the time on the expectation court proceedings might be concluded in the near future. However, as those proceedings continue, at this point this is the only statement the IIO will make. The IIO will be issuing its usual public report at the conclusion of that court process," the IIO said Wednesday.

Fernando Verde, the subject of the arrest, filed a lawsuit in October 2020 that alleges he had to be resuscitated by staff at Kelowna General Hospital and underwent emergency surgery after being mauled by the dog.

The lawsuit claims Verde was trying to return the e-bike to a friend after it had been stolen, and that he had found it in the possession of a known bike thief, “Bike Mike”. It also alleges the police dog was instructed to attack Verde, who fell off the bike, and was attacked while he was on the ground.

He’s suing two police officers as well as the Attorney General of Canada and BC Minister of Public Safety.

A response to the civil claim alleges Verde rode the e-bike directly at Constable Sahay and police service dog Ice. All three fell to the ground as a result of this collision and the plaintiff struggled with the officer. That’s when the dog clamped onto Verde’s leg.

The response claims Ice let go of Verde when ordered to do so and officers applied tourniquets to the plaintiff’s leg until the ambulance arrived.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

Criminal charges related to the incident were filed against Verde in January, 2021. He’s accused of assaulting a peace officer, wilfully maiming a police dog, resisting arrest, theft and possession of stolen property.

Verde has been actively engaged in the criminal justice system for a variety of property-related offences since 2017, according to online court records.

*this story has been updated to include details of the RCMP's filed response to the civil lawsuit and charges laid against Verde

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