Photo: File photo
B.C.’s police watchdog says Penticton RCMP members attempting to stop two individuals riding motorcycles who had been “checking out” houses and vehicles had reasonable grounds to do so, and did not contribute to their eventual crash.
The Independent Investigations Office of B.C., which investigates police incidents that involve significant injuries or deaths, has determined that the three RCMP officers involved in the incident in the early morning hours of June 20, 2023, committed no offences, according to a report released Friday.
“All the officers involved in this incident had reasonable grounds to stop and question the two motorcyclists based on previous suspicious behaviour in a residential area in the middle of the night,” Ronald MacDonald, chief civilian director at the IIO BC, wrote in his report.
At around 3:40 a.m. on June 20, Penticton police received a complaint of suspicious activity in a residential area.
Three officers were available nearby, and one was able to locate the two motorcyclists matching the suspects’ descriptions and confirm that their behaviour was suspicious.
At the time, the first officer did not attempt to stop them and did not believe that they had seen him. The two motorcyclists drove off at high speed and the officer lost sight of them.
That officer met up with another to discuss the situation, only to see the motorcycles drive by them at high speed.
One of the officers followed, before realizing continuing the pursuit would be dangerous. The second officer also followed, passing the stopped officer’s car, and shortly the scene of a vehicle crash.
A third officer had been advised that the motorcycles were coming in his direction, following them after they passed.
After about 21 seconds of pursuit, he came upon a scene where one of the motorcyclists had crashed into a low concrete wall and was trapped under the bike. The man was unresponsive and paramedics were called in.
According to the report all three police vehicle were equipped with dash camera that also record the status of the vehicles’ speed and emergency lights.
“[The recordings], obtained by IIO investigators, corroborate and confirm the narrative,” the report reads. “A CCTV video recording from the commercial premises at the crash scene shows the officer three arrived approximately 10 seconds after the crash.”
The motorcycle was confirmed to be stolen, with identification markings partially filed off. A quantity of methamphetamine was also located in a backpack. The driver also had the presence of meth, opioids, MDMA and benzodiazepines in his system.
The hurt driver claimed that a police vehicle cut in front of the other motorcyclist, almost hitting him, which was not supported by any other evidence, including video, according to the IIO. He told investigators he was unsure of what caused him to crash.
MacDonald said he determined that when officers exceeded the speed limit, either with or without emergency lights, in all cases the actions were justified.
“I do not consider that there are any reasonable grounds to believe that an officer may have committed an offence under any enactment.”