Charges approved against Prince George RCMP officers (updated)

THE BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced on Monday that charges have been approved against three Prince George RCMP officers in connection with their involvement in the arrest of two suspects on February 18, 2016, in a residential neighborhood in Prince George.

The case was investigated by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), which subsequently submitted a Report to Crown Counsel in June 2018.

The BCPS said that the charge assessment process in this case was significantly delayed due to the complexity of the issues, the volume of initial disclosure, its requests for further information, and subsequent receipt of additional disclosure.

An information charging Constable Joshua Grafton with assault, assault with a weapon, and obstruction of justice was sworn on June 8. A separate information charging Constable Wayne Connell and Constable Kyle Sharpe with assault causing bodily harm was also sworn on June 8. Their first appearance is set for August 12 in Prince George Provincial Court.

The BCPS said the charges were approved by an experienced Crown Counsel with no prior or current connection with the officers. The charge assessment guidelines applied by the BCPS in reviewing all reports to Crown Counsel are set out in the BCPS Crown Counsel Policy Manual.

NATIONAL Police Federation’s President Brian Sauve on Tuesday said in a statement:

“The NPF supports oversight and believes that complaints against members of the RCMP need to be investigated fully, fairly, transparently and most importantly, resolved in a timely and effective manner out of respect for all parties.

“The NPF and all RCMP members recognize the very real and pressing need to ensure that cases that involve police use of force are properly reviewed and, where appropriate, investigated. We support and work to protect every Canadians’ right to be treated fairly and equally.

“This case in Prince George launched in February 2016, took well over two years for the IIO to investigate and another two years for the Crown to approve charges for an incident that thankfully ended in only minor injuries for the two individuals that have since pled guilty to the crimes for which they were pursued and arrested.

“These RCMP members have continued to serve their communities diligently and professionally while this protracted investigation took place, and now face additional years of uncertainty awaiting trial and verdict.

“The brave men and women who stand up to protect Canadians from those that would do them harm deserve better than to be subjected to a prolonged four-and-a-half year investigation.

“Just as the RCMP need to consider all ways to continuously improve and enhance the delivery of services to those we serve, the IIO and Crown need to look at real ways to improve their process of investigations.”