Crown stays case against RCMP members following testimony from alleged victim
October 19, 2021 By Canadian Press / Local Journalism Initiative
Oct. 15, 2021, Prince George, B.C. – Two Prince George RCMP officers no longer stand accused of criminal charges from an arrest caught on a security camera that suggested excessive force was used.
Counts of assault causing bodily harm against each of Constables Wayne Connell and Kyle Sharpe were stayed Friday after Crown prosecutor Shannon Gerrie concluded the evidence against the two no longer met the standard for charge approval.
Crown continues to pursue a separate prosecution against Cst. Joshua Grafton who faces assault, assault with a weapon in relation to the arrest of Cuyler Richard Aubichon, as well as a count obstruction of justice.
Gerrie directed the stays after the court heard testimony from Nathaniel Basil, one of the two men arrested during the takedown in an alleyway off the 2200 block of Oak Street in the early morning of Feb. 18, 2016.
Asked to provide an account of what happened on that day, nearly six years ago, Basil’s testimony was vague and jumbled. And when offered a chance to review a video of the statement he gave police following his arrest, Basil declined.
“These are serious charges before the court with a strong community interest in learning what happened,” Gerrie told provincial court judge Joseph Galati.
“However the Crown has one obligation which is to continuously (live up) to the charge standard, as set out in Crown policy and having reviewed all of the evidence and the Crown policy and have concluded that the charge approval standard has (not been met) therefore I’m directing a stay of proceedings.”
Gerrie declined to elaborate afterwards but said the B.C. Prosecution Service will issue a clear statement.
Even as the trial started, it appeared the Crown’s case was tenuous.
Basil was the passenger in a stolen pickup truck that was being driving by Aubichon when it was boxed in by police.
The video shows, which was first provided to Global News, clearly only the driver’s side while the passenger side, where police dealt with Basil, is obscured by the truck.
When Basil took the stand, Gerrie worked to tease details out of him but with little success.
Basil told the court he saw “bright lights from the front and the back,” then being “rushed and swarmed.”
Basil said he remembered police telling him to put his hands up and not move. He said police opened the truck’s door and “I kind of got halfway out and I got pulled out the rest of the way.”
He said he ended up on the ground and claimed he was “getting jumped on at the same time they were trying to handcuff me.” Basil said he later found blood on his head and that his ribs were sore for a month from getting “kicked up”.
Basil complained the events were hard to remember because they happened so long ago.
“I just want to get this over with and I just want to get on with my life,” he said.
In earlier testimony, the court heard that Alison Carstairs, who was called in to help investigate the case for B.C.’s civilian-based police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office, had issued an opinion that the force police used in the incident was reasonable.
However, the opinion was not provided in a disclosure of documents to defence counsels and Carstairs was not sworn in as an expert witness on use of force.
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