Car thief fleeing Abbotsford police should have expected to be tackled: watchdog

Police watchdog says getting tackled while attempting to flee was a ‘foreseeable outcome’

A suspected car thief should have foreseen that he would be tackled by an Abbotsford Police officer when he attempted to avoid being arrested last fall, the public body tasked with investigating B.C. police departments has found.

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of BC announced Thursday that they won’t be recommending charges against APD officers after a suspect sustained serious injuries while being arrested on Oct. 12, 2018.

On that day, police in an unmarked vehicle and a helicopter were watching a stolen truck drive around Abbotsford, apparently trying to “avoid surveillance.” When the male driver parked the truck and walked away, officers pursued the man on foot.

Neither the name of the suspect nor the officer are disclosed in the IIO decision.

READ THE DECISION HERE

One officer eventually tackled the man onto a sidewalk, “just a few metres before a major thoroughfare.” If he had not been tackled, he would have crossed the street, which is not identified by the IIO.

The suspect sustained injuries to his elbow and knee, along with “a swelling and abrasion on his head where it struck the sidewalk,” according to the IIO. During the arrest, he complained his elbow was broken.

The suspect told the IIO that he “was just walking toward the courthouse … and got tackled from behind.”

But two witnesses who saw parts of the incident, but not the arrest itself, said they heard officers yelling commands at the suspect.

The officer who made the arrest, and whose actions were the subject of the IIO investigation, did not give a statement.

Video from the helicopter, meanwhile, only shows the positions of the officers and suspect.

In its decision, the IIO expressed doubts that the suspect didn’t know officers were in pursuit and wanted him to stop. And it concluded that the officer could reasonably have thought that the suspect was trying to flee.

“Had [the suspect] been able to continue, the resulting foot chase would have continued into a busy intersection, which could have created risks to civilian traffic, to police and to [the suspect] himself.”

The IIO found that the takedown and the degree of force was neither unnecessary or excessive.

“Simply put, [the suspect] was attempting to escape from the police. He was ordered to stop, and from the available evidence he appears to have ignored those orders and instead continued to move away from the police. Being grabbed and tackled by [the officer] was, in all these circumstance, a foreseeable outcome.”

RELATED: Officers not responsible for death of distressed man in Abbotsford, says IIO

RELATED: Police actions justified in incident involving death of Const. John Davidson, IIO says


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tolsen@abbynews.com

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