Watchdog asks Crown to consider charges against five officers in death of B.C. man

SURREY, B.C. - British Columbia's police watchdog is asking Crown counsel to consider use of force and obstruction charges against five police officers after the death of a Prince George man while in custody.

The Independent Investigations Office says the RCMP indicated its officers responded to reports of a man checking parked vehicles for valuables on July 18, 2017.

The office says in a news release issued Friday that police said when they tried to question the man, he allegedly attempted to escape on a bicycle.

It says the office was told that while officer's attempted to take the man into custody, there was a struggle, pepper spray was used, and the man collapsed and later died.

Ron MacDonald, the watchdog’s chief civilian director, says "reasonable grounds" exist to believe two officers may have committed offences related to use of force and three others may have committed obstruction of justice.

The BC Crown Prosecution Service will look at the evidence to determine whether there's a substantial likelihood of conviction based on the evidence gathered by the Independent Investigations Office.

This report was first published by the Canadian Press on May 29, 2020.