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Stay of proceedings relating to charges arising out of the death of Dale Culver

The BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) announced Friday that there is no longer a reasonable prospect of conviction regarding charges that had previously been approved against two members of the Prince George RMCP involved in the arrest of Dale Culver on July 18, 2017, in Prince George.

An investigation was conducted by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO). The Chief Civilian Director of the IIO determined that there were reasonable grounds to believe the officers may have committed offences and submitted a report to the BCPS (IIO file 2017-083).

Culver died on July 18, 2017, following an arrest by a Prince George RCMP officer. At the time Culver was riding his bike and refused to stop. A chase resulted, with the officer following in his police SUV, then on foot. The officer pulled Culver off his bike from behind. Culver landed on the officer, hurting the officer’s wrist. There was a fight, with attempted punches
being exchanged. The officer pressed his emergency button, requiring all other officers in the area to drop what they were doing and attend as soon as possible.

The arresting officer deployed oleoresin capsicum spray (also known as “OC spray” or pepper spray) in Culver’s face. Culver rolled over onto his stomach. The officer had difficulty handcuffing him. A bystander came to assist and held Culver’s shoulder down.

Several officers arrived quickly in response to the emergency call. Cst. Ste-Marie was the first to arrive. He shoved the bystander away and punched Culver at least once in the head. The next officer arrived, Cst. Monette, who kicked or kneed him in the head or upper body. More officers arrived and surrounded Culver. After some time, they were able to handcuff him with two sets of cuffs.

Culver was then stood up and walked, with assistance, to the back of a police vehicle. When paramedics arrived, Culver was initially responsive. He stood up outside the vehicle, but then collapsed and died 29 minutes after the conclusion of his interaction with the police, which was approximately three minutes.

The charge assessment was conducted by ad hoc Crown Counsel, who determined that the exceptional charge assessment standard of reasonable prospect of conviction was satisfied based on the evidence available at the time, including an autopsy report by a pathologist. On February 1, 2023, Cst. Paul Ste- Marie and Cst. Jean Francois Monette were charged with the manslaughter of Culver.

During preparation for the preliminary inquiry ad hoc Crown Counsel was unable to resolve questions about the evidence of cause of death with the pathologist. A decision was made to seek an independent opinion from another pathologist. The reviewing pathologist found the cause of death to be acute and chronic adverse effects of methamphetamine following a struggle. The mechanism of death was sudden cardiac (arrhythmic) death.

The BCPS has concluded that there is no longer a reasonable prospect of conviction in relation to Cst. Ste-Marie or Cst. Monette for manslaughter. The Crown also considered whether there is a reasonable prospect of conviction for any lesser included offences. Based on the evidence available, the BCPS is not able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the two officers committed a criminal offence in relation to the arrest of Culver. As a result, the Crown will be directing a stay of proceedings on the Information before the court.

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