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Police watchdog recommends charges in 2017 in-custody death of Witset man

Dale Culver was pepper-sprayed by RCMP in Prince George and died later in hospital
(BCCLA photo) Dale Culver. (BCCLA photo)

B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office (IIO) has recommended charges in the 2017 in-custody death of a 35-year-old father of three children from Witset.

In a press release May 29, the IIO said on July 18, 2017, RCMP responded to a complaint about a man allegedly casing parked vehicles in 1000-block of Central Street West in Prince George.

Police said when they attempted to question Dale Culver he tried to flee on a bicycle. In the course of trying to take Culver into custody he was pepper-sprayed.

“The male appeared to be having trouble breathing and police requested medical assistance,” the IIO release states. “Officers reported that the male was removed from the police vehicle when Emergency Health Services (EHS) arrived, and collapsed.”

Culver died shortly thereafter.

READ MORE: Moricetown man dies in custody

The IIO began an investigation immediately and in January 2018 the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) added a formal complaint.

“Upon completion of the investigation, IIO Chief Civilian Director Ronald J. MacDonald, QC has determined that reasonable grounds exist to believe that two officers may have committed offences in relation to use of force, and three others may have committed offences regarding obstruction of justice,” the IIO said.

The file has been turned over to the B.C. Prosecution Service (BCPS).

READ MORE: BCCLA files complaint against Prince George RCMP in death of Wet’suwet’en man

“This is a key development for his family and the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s pursuit of justice for Dale,” the BCCLA tweeted following the announcement.

The IIO said it will not provide any more information while the case is before the Crown.

According to BCPS Charge Assessment Policy, prosecutors must determine if there is enough evidence for a “substantial likelihood” of conviction and, if so, it is in the public interest to prosecute.

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Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
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