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Charge dropped against officer whose dog bit and injured Abbotsford suspect

Const. Simon Courtoreille had been charged in relation to 2020 arrest
File photo: A service dog with the Abbotsford Police Department sports a protective armoured vest. (Photo by Dale Klippenstein)

Charges have been stayed against an RCMP dog handler who was involved in the arrest of a suspect in Abbotsford in 2020, the BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced Tuesday (Feb. 26).

Const. Simon Courtoreille had been charged in October 2022 with assault causing bodily harm.

According to the BCPS, the charge stemmed from an incident on July 12, 2020 in which police were called to the scene of a domestic assault where the suspect was high on drugs and had barricaded himself in a bedroom with his three-year-old son.

Eight police officers, including Courtoreille with his police service dog, entered the home. Police located the suspect and his son sleeping in a bedroom, and safely removed the child.

Courtoreille and four other officers then attempted to arrest the man, but he resisted. A struggle ensued, and the man slipped off the bed onto the floor, close to Courtoreille and the dog.

According to the BCPS, the dog bit the suspect twice, and one of his injuries required stitches.

The BCPS said there was no evidence that any officer asked Courtoreille to deploy the dog or that he gave any warning before setting the dog on the suspect.

An investigation was conducted by the Independent Investigations Office, resulting in the BCPS approving the charge against Courtoreille.

However, according to the BCPS, new evidence came forward during pre-trial interviews.

“Three out of the the four officers said that they had lost control of the fight with the (suspect), and that the use of force by deploying the dog was appropriate in ending the (suspect’s) active resistance and concluding the incident,” the BCPS said.

“They said that other force options other than the dog were either not available or would have caused greater physical harm to the (suspect).”

The BCPS statement said other tactics considered by the officers included the use of pepper spray, but the room was too small, and the use of a baton or bean-bag rifle, which could have caused serious injury in such close quarters.

ALSO SEE: Cop whose dog injured man during Abbotsford arrest will not face charges

During their pre-trial interviews, the officers said the suspect would have been “sufficiently warned” of the presence and potential use of the dog because of its barking.

The BCPS said an expert in police service dog training also changed their opinion after Courtoreille was charged.

“The expert would not give opinion evidence on any specific factual scenario, stating that there were too many variables to be able to comment,” the BCPS said.

“After the charge was approved, however, the expert provided the opinion that the use of the dog by Const. Courtoreille was in accordance with training standards.”

The BCPS concluded that the evidence no longer proved “that the use of force by the accused was not necessary, justified and proportionate.”

“After a full and careful review of all the available evidence, the assigned Crown counsel concluded that it would not be possible to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused committed any offence in relation to the incident.”

ALSO SEE: Abbotsford Police dog handler acquitted of 2 assault charges