The Special Investigations Unit, an arm’s-length agency that investigates incidents in which a member of the public has sustained serious injury in interactions with police, has determined that there is no basis to charge a Kingston Police officer when the police dog he was handling bit a fleeing shoplifting suspect.
The report states that on Sunday, August 20th, 2017, at about 10:00 p.m., the male entered the Walmart store on Midland Ave, in the city’s west end.
At about 10:30 p.m., he was observed by the Loss Prevention Officer (LPO) selecting merchandise and concealing it inside a backpack, which he had also taken from the store.
The male left the store through an emergency exit door which activated a security alarm. The LPO, along with another store employee, ran out of the store after the suspect, who ran south on the sidewalk and across the street to a parking lot on the west side of the street. The SIU report states that the male stopped in the parking lot of the LCBO and confronted the LPO, placing one hand behind his back, stating that he had a weapon and that the security officer should not get any closer. The male then dropped the backpack containing the stolen merchandise and ran into a grassy field area to the west of the LCBO parking lot. The LPO called Kingston Police and police officers responded to the scene.
Containment was set up in the area and a Kingston Police canine handler was called in with his police service dog to assist in locating the suspect. The K9 officer, his police service dog, and a cover officer entered the field off of the LCBO parking lot, from the south side. The dog was on a 20 foot leash ahead of the K9 officer and located the suspect lying face down in the field. The officer heard the suspect scream and approached and removed the dog from the suspect. The male was then arrested, handcuffed, and walked out of the field into the LCBO parking lot. The male told the K9 officer that he had been too scared to stand up and indicate that he was there.
The male’s left arm was examined by police officers in the parking lot. He had a puncture wound in the top of his triceps and a small but deep gash near his triceps and armpit area. An ambulance was called and the male was transported to hospital, where he was treated for his injuries. The suspect had sustained a dog bite to his left medial arm. He was treated at hospital for a deep wound, at least five cm in diameter, to the upper left arm. The wound was irrigated and he was referred to the plastics clinic. He was later released from hospital and was taken to the police station, where he was held pending a bail hearing.
In his report, SIU Director Tony Locarpo states that “the police service dog was behaving exactly as he was trained to do, in that he grabbed the Complainant as soon as he located him and held onto him until he was told to disengage by his handler. Because the dog was on a 20 foot tracking leash and, in the darkness, it took a few seconds for the Subject Officer to catch up to where the dog was holding the Complainant, with the Complainant struggling to pull away from dog, (described by Witness Officer #2 as a tug of war) unfortunately, the resultant injury was exacerbated.”
“Furthermore, on all of the evidence, and as specifically confirmed by the Complainant, the Subject Officer at no time issued any verbal commands to the dog to bite the Complainant, and he immediately pulled the dog off as soon as he arrived at the Complainant’s location. On these facts, there is no basis upon which I can form reasonable grounds to believe that the Subject Officer exercised an excessive use of force against the Complainant. The police service dog behaved exactly as he was trained to do, after having located a possibly armed and dangerous man hiding in the brush in the dark, he latched on and held until his handler arrived and told him to disengage.”
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