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Obstruction charge stayed against Prince George officer

Const. Clarence MacDonald 1 of 5 officers originally charged in connection with Dale Culver’s death

The B.C. Prosecution Service has stayed an obstruction of justice charge against a Prince George Mountie who was accused in connection to the 2017 death of an Indigenous man.

Const. Clarence (Alex) Alexander MacDonald is one of five RCMP officers who were originally charged in February 2023 for the role they played before or after the death of Dale Culver, a 35-year-old member of the Gitxsan and Witsuwit’en Nations. Culver died in police custody shortly after a struggle with the officers that involved him getting pepper-sprayed.

Constables Paul Ste-Marie and Jean Francois Monette were initially charged with one count of manslaughter each, but those charges were stayed in April 2024, with the B.C. Prosecution Service saying it was no longer confident the men would be convicted. Three other officers, including MacDonald, Const. Arthur Dalman and Sgt. Bayani (Jon) Eusebio Cruz, were charged with attempting to obstruct justice.

On May 10, however, the B.C. Prosecution Service decided to stay its proceedings against MacDonald, leaving just two of the original five officers to face trial.

In B.C., a stay of charges or proceedings means Crown counsel has dropped its charges against the person. Crown is allowed to re-start the prosecution process within one year of the stay for serious charges.

Damienne Darby, communications counsel for the prosecution service, told Black Press Media they won’t be sharing the reasons for their decision until the trial against the remaining officers has finished. It’s scheduled to begin in Prince George on June 10.

The B.C. Prosecution Service never disclosed the reasoning behind its obstruction of justice charges, but the B.C. Civil Liberties Association said it had heard allegations that the officers told witnesses to delete any video they had taken of police interacting with Culver. The claim has not been proven in court.

Earlier this month, Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs and the First Nations Leadership Council called for a public inquiry into the deaths of Culver and Jared Lowndes, a Wet’suwet’en man killed by RCMP officers in Campbell River in 2021. The B.C. Prosecution Service declined to press charges against the officers involved in Lowndes’ death.

“The message is clear, First Nations lives are disposable,” said Joel Starlund/Sk’a’nismTsa ‘Win’Giit, executive director of the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs at the time.

READ ALSO: Northwest hereditary chiefs demand accountability for deadly RCMP arrests

READ ALSO: First Nations Leadership Council joins call for probe into lack of police prosecutions

About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media.
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