Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive Feb.  6, 2012)

Bite me

By Bob Cooper


It looks like police dogs are becoming this year’s Taser.

In the early morning hours of June 12th, construction worker Christopher Evans was waiting for a bus outside the Waldorf Hotel on East Hastings.  Frustrated when busses passed by without stopping and suspecting that it was because of his tattoos, he approached the next bus and threw his skateboard at the windshield. Surprised that he wasn’t welcomed aboard, Evans picked up his skateboard and smashed it against the door seven times breaking the glass and shouting “open the f**cking door”.  The driver refused and called for the police.  This much is common ground because it was all caught on the coach’s on-board video camera.

A Vancouver Police dogmaster arrived shortly thereafter.  Evans claims he briefly boarded another bus but exited and went into a nearby alley and jumped back on his skateboard while listening to music on his earphones.  He says he wasn’t even aware that the police had arrived until his right leg suddenly seemed a bit heavier than his left and he looked down to find a large dog attached to it and finished up with wounds that required 100 staples to close.

Evans complained to the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner.  The OPCC reviewed all of the facts available to them and decided that while the injuries to Evans were unfortunate, he had committed a crime and was actively resisting arrest and the dogmaster, Const. Richard Lee had acted properly.  In other words, Evans was the author of his own misfortune.  Supported by the Pivot Legal Society, Evans launched a civil suit against the VPD and Pivot freely made him available for media interviews along with photos of his leg which admittedly make one think ‘I’ll bet that hurt’.

To their credit, the VPD decided that two can play at this and quickly came out with its version of events complete with the video from the bus.  Deputy Chief Adam Palmer told the press that when Const. Lee drove into the alley after Evans he had both his siren and emergency lights on.  He switched the siren off but kept the lights flashing and shouted to Evans to stop or he would release his dog.  Evans carried on and quickly learned that in terms of speed, the best engineered skateboard in the world is no match for a German shepherd.

Evans’ claim that “if the cops would have just said, ‘Hey, stop’ and got my attention, I wouldn’t have tried to run” is rather dubious.  I’ve never once seen a dog released without the dogmaster shouting a warning and I’ve been there for dozens of them.  While he may not have heard the warning, which is no fault of Const. Lee, no amount of loud music would muffle a siren in a confined space like an alley nor could he have failed to notice the flashing lights.  I’d also point out that dog bites are usually just puncture wounds whereas the injuries here typically come from struggling. 

Douglas King of Pivot says that none of this matters as the amount of force was disproportionate to the situation and that the police should only use dogs when pursuing armed or dangerous suspects, or for incidents threatening public safety.  I’d say that at the time, Evans qualified on all 3 counts and I don’t imagine that the driver or the other passengers on the bus would disagree.  Ditto Const. Lee.  Remember, all he knows at the time is that Evans has clearly demonstrated dangerous, violent behavior and is trying to escape.

I’ve read most of the press coverage and nowhere does it appear that any reporters asked the obvious question of whether Evans was under the influence of either alcohol or drugs at the time which would explain a lot, but judging by most of the reader comments, Vancouverites don’t feel a great deal of sympathy for Evans and I hope the courts would take the same view.  The Crown already folded on his Mischief charge and he doesn’t deserve to profit from his stupidity as well.

After the Van Hubbard shooting I praised Chief Constable Jim Chu for refusing to be cowed into silence by the B.C. Criminal Liberties Association and acting quickly to get the truth out:

Both the public and Const. Lee deserve to have all the facts heard in this situation and I say kudos to Deputy Chief Palmer for demonstrating the same courage.

Now watch for the hysteria from Pivot, Amnesty International, et al.  Recommendations like having the dogs’ teeth filed down, psych evaluations & sensitivity training every 6 months, valium with their Alpo before each tour.

Frankly, they should be using bears.  On a very spartan diet.



Bob Cooper is a retired Vancouver policeman.  He walked a beat in Chinatown and later worked in the Asian Organized Crime Section and the Homicide Squad.



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