No charges for Langley officer in incident that flung motorcyclist 23 metres

Police were trying to cut off two motorcyclists who had fled an earlier traffic stop

There will be no charges against a Langley RCMP officer who collided with a motorcycle that had fled from an earlier police stop in 2017, the BC Prosecution Service [BCPS] said Wednesday.

The decision follows an inquiry by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) which had determined there might be reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against the officer. The BCPS statement said the available evidence doesn’t support charges, however.

The incident took place on June 21, 2017, and began when an RCMP motorcycle officer was running speed enforcement on 16th Avenue near 227th Street in South Langley at about 9 p.m., while it was still light out.

The motorcycle officer was dealing with a stopped vehicle when they heard the sound of several approaching motorcycles.

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Two bikes approached at a high rate of speed, estimated at about 140 km/h in a 60 km/h zone, according to the motorcycle officer.

Instead of stopping, the motorcycles slowed, then sped off. The officer could hear them slowing down further down 16th Avenue as though they were turning, and reported that information to RCMP dispatch while calling in the incident.

The officer involved in the incident was heading south on 224th Street.

When the two motorcyclists approached, the officer positioned their police cruiser facing south in the center of 224th Street, centered on the yellow line and partially blocking the oncoming lane. The cruiser’s emergency lights were turned on.

The first motorcycle slowed briefly, then sped ahead to pass the RCMP cruiser on its left hand side. The officer swung the vehicle to the left, and as the second motorcycle tried to pass as well, the cruiser’s dashcam video showed a puff of dust and the sound of the motorcycle’s wheels meeting the gravel shoulder alongside the ditch.

The driver lost control, crashed into the ditch, and hit a culvert, sustaining serious injuries.

After hitting the culvert, the rider, a 31-year-old woman, was flung 23 meters before landing. The bike was flung 28 meters.

The motorcyclist suffered two leg fractures, a fractured pelvis, a fractured wrist, ligament damage in the knee, a contusion in the lung, injuries to the kidney and liver, and lacerations to the head.

READ MORE: Motorcycle crash closes South Langley road

The officer on the scene quickly called for other officers and an ambulance, and the motorcycle rider was taken to hospital by Air Ambulance.

The rider later told investigators that she made contact with the police vehicle, which “smashed” into them, but the investigation found there was no contact between the police vehicle and the motorcycle.

The IIO consulted a collision expert from another jurisdiction on the officer’s actions, who said that attempting to block a fast-moving vehicle was unsafe, but that it was also “split second decision” in a rapidly changing situation.

“If the movement [of the police cruiser] was a deliberate attempt to intercept the second motorcycle or to force it off the road there is little doubt that the offence of dangerous driving would be made out,” according to the BCPS report.

But the officer involved also told another officer at the scene that he had turned the car to try to get a look at the license plate of the first motorcycle as it was driving past.

The officer’s actions could be seen as “an understandable misjudgment or momentary lapse,” said the BCPS report.

“Following a thorough review, the BCPS has concluded that the available evidence does not support approving any charges against the SO,” the report concluded.

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