A Vancouver police spokesperson says an internal department review found a complaint over an alleged attack by a police dog last June to be “unsubstantiated”.
Christopher Evans, 33, is suing the City of Vancouver and two officers, alleging he was bitten by a service dog and suffered wounds that required around 100 staples to close.
In the suit, Evans claims he continues to suffer ill effects from the injuries he sustained after the alleged attack in an East Vancouver alley.
“We only became aware of this pending lawsuit yesterday as a result of media stories,” Vancouver police Const. Lindsey Houghton told reporters during a briefing today (January 27).
“And while we can’t speak specifically to the incident that’s referenced, we can say that it has been investigated by the Vancouver Police Department’s professional standards section and that investigation was overseen by the B.C. Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, which found that the complaint was unsubstantiated,” he said.
Houghton also defended the department’s dog squad.
“The Vancouver police dog squad attends over 10,000 calls a year and their dog is deployed in less than one percent of those calls,” he said.
“It’s a tool that we have at our disposal just like a baton or pepper spray and in order to use that tool…an officer has to believe that a criminal offence has been committed and a use of force is needed to apprehend that suspect, and that’s well-defined in the Criminal Code,” Houghton said.
Evans, a Downtown Eastside resident, admits in legal documents he smashed a bus window in frustration after he was passed by several times while heading home on June 12, 2011.
He alleges he was later bitten on the leg by a service dog while skateboarding and listening to music on headphones. The Crown eventually stayed a charge of mischief against Evans, the suit says.
In his civil claim, Evans argues the deployment of the police dog was not warranted or necessary. He also argues the officers were negligent in training and deploying the dog.
Evans is seeking general damages for personal injuries and special damages for loss of income and earning capacity.
Pivot Legal Society, a Downtown Eastside advocacy group, is supporting his legal action against the city and the police officers.