The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) has determined that no charges will be laid against an Abbotsford Police officer who used a beanbag shotgun that injured a suspect during an arrest.
The BCPS said in a press release issued Thursday (Jan. 5) that the suspect suffered “serious injuries” while being arrested for outstanding warrants in Chilliwack on March 2, 2020.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), which looks into officer-related incidents involving death or serious harm, investigated the matter.
The agency then submitted its report to BCPS, saying there were “reasonable grounds to believe the officer may have committed offences.”
But the BCPS concluded that “the available evidence does not meet the BCPS charge assessment standard.”
“The BCPS is not able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officer committed any offence in relation to the incident. As a result, no charges have been approved,” the press release states.
A detailed report on the matter indicates that the officer who was investigated was one of four officers with the Abbotsford Police Department who were involved in a joint project with the Chilliwack RCMP. The project involved locating and arresting repeat offenders who had outstanding warrants.
On the evening of March 2, 2020, the officers received information that a suspect wanted for vehicle theft, the dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and the assault of a peace officer was inside an apartment building.
Attempts to arrest the suspect took place on a third-floor balcony, and one of the officers fired his beanbag shotgun eight times, according to the report, striking the suspect three times. One shot broke the suspect’s nose.
The report states that the first shot was mistakenly fired in the direction of another officer who appeared on a second-storey balcony.
During the incident, the suspect threatened to kill an officer, climbed up and down the balconies, broke a window and went into an occupied unit, struck a police service dog with a flashlight several times, and swung an object at an officer’s face, according to the report.
He was finally arrested after he fell two stories to a balcony on the second floor as officers were trying to hold on to him while he was climbing over the railing. He suffered a fractured heel and broken wrist in the fall.
Potential charges that the officer could have faced included careless use of a firearm, reckless discharge of a firearm, assault with a weapon, aggravated assault and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
But the BCPS determined that the officer’s actions were justified “based on the suspect’s behaviour and the public safety concerns that existed in the circumstances, and the need to safely effect the arrest of the suspect.”
The report does not name the officer or suspect but previous media reports indicate that Travis Nigel Bragg, 25, was arrested in an apartment takedown in the 9200 block of Mary Street in Chilliwack on March 2, 2020.
Bragg had been wanted for an incident in Abbotsford on Jan. 23, 2020 in which he stole a truck and, when officers attempted to pull him over, he rammed a police car and sped away.
He was later sentenced to time served, an 18-month driving ban and 18 months’ probation for that incident.
Bragg was also charged with 10 offences for the Chilliwack incident and went to trial on five of them in December. He was convicted of all five charges on Dec. 22 and sentenced, after credit for time served, to an additional 15 days in prison to be followed by two years of probation.