PRINCE GEORGE (NEWS 1130) — The police watchdog in B.C. admits it took too long to investigate a violent arrest in Prince George.
On Monday, British Columbia’s prosecution service announced it approved charges against three RCMP officers in Prince George relating to an arrest of two suspects in February 2016.
Const. Joshua Grafton faces charges of assault and assault with a weapon and obstruction, while Constables Wayne Connell and Kyle Sharpe are charged with assault causing bodily harm.
Ron MacDonald, head of B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office, says he hoped the Prince George investigation would have been resolved within several months.
“An investigation like this should take less than a year,” he tells NEWS 1130.
But MacDonald says the IIO spent two years looking into the officers’ actions.
“Even our time length on the investigation was longer than I would’ve liked – it was too long,” he says. “But we have made great strides to repair those situations.”
And the Crown took another two years to approve charges.
Police misconduct — how long should it take to investigate?
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Among those questioning the delay, the National Police Federation – which represents Mounties from across Canada – says it’s not fair for the officers to wait this long for an investigation to conclude.
“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 NPF said in a statement.
Last month George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, was killed when an officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes.
Floyd’s death has sparked demonstrations against police brutality and racism around the world.
Since then, cases across Canada have surfaced of questionable tactics by police.
MacDonald says Canadians may be comparing the Prince George case to Floyd’s case, but he says the American approach is a “whole different process.”
“With respect to that [U.S.] process, it’s hard for me to understand how a complete thorough investigation can be done in that short period of time,” he says.
“So it takes some time, and it takes longer for us to do our investigations that wind up with the Crown as you can expect because we want to make sure all our I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed. And in addition [it may take] longer than that might take for a police agency, because in our world … the final decision has to be made by only one person … so that can lead to additional time. But that’s a necessary part of the system.”
One of four former Minneapolis police officers, Derek Chauvin, was fired for his involvement in Floyd’s death and was charged with second-degree murder. And three former Minneapolis police officers were charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin.