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Police respond to dog-bite suit by releasing video of man battering bus

Christopher Evans, 33, who was bitten by a Vancouver Police dog last June after he broke a window of a city bus, poses for a portrait in the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday, January 26, 2012.

Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and Mail/rafal gerszak The Globe and Mail

Vancouver police, responding to the account of a man alleging he was the victim of an overly aggressive takedown by a police dog, released a video made before the canine incident that shows the man repeatedly battering a bus window with his skateboard and shouting obscenities.

Last week, Christopher Evans said he did not think there was any damage to the bus, but the video shows Mr. Evans throwing his skateboard at it and then repeatedly striking its door, resulting in visible damage.

Mr. Evans, 33, is suing Vancouver over his encounter with the police dog when he was arrested shortly after his run-in with the bus.

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Vancouver police, boasting the second largest canine unit in the country, continue to defend their use of police dogs and, more specifically, the "bite and hold" method. Pivot Legal Society lost a recent fight with the force to challenge dog-training methods and the criteria under which dog squads are deployed.

With 121 reported injuries from dog bites since March, 2010, Vancouver has roughly 5.5 incidents a month. That is the highest number of dog-bite injuries of all the municipal police forces in B.C., according to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.

Darcie Bennett, campaign director at Pivot, said the video released by Vancouver police does not change anything because Mr. Evans has "always admitted that he committed a crime and his behaviour wasn't appropriate."

"That doesn't change our concern around why dogs were employed in this kind of case, the level of force and the level of injury that resulted and whether this was an appropriate measure," Ms. Bennett said.

Vancouver police also released the audio recording of a 911 call made after the bus incident. The police response is the source of Mr. Evans's lawsuit and the larger criticisms from Pivot over the way police dogs are used in the city.

According to police, a dog-squad officer approached Mr. Evans in a police car with a siren going and emergency lights flashing. The officer stopped his vehicle and called for Mr. Evans to stop running or the police dog would be released, Deputy Chief Adam Palmer said.

Mr. Evans said he was skateboarding down the alley, playing loud music through earbud headphones when he was bitten in the leg by a dog and fell to the ground. He said he did not realize it was a police dog until he was on the ground and saw a police officer approaching him from about 30 or 40 feet away.

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Police did not say whether Mr. Evans made any acknowledgment of the officer's presence prior to being bitten.

"I was totally shocked, right. If the cops would have just said, 'Hey, stop' and got my attention, I wouldn't have tried to run. I would have taken my consequences," Mr. Evans said.

He was charged with mischief under $5,000, but the Crown later stayed the charges.

Pivot is seeking damages for Mr. Evans, who said he lost his job and his apartment because of the injuries from his arrest.

The video released by Vancouver police comes at a time of heightened attention over the use of police dogs in B.C. Surrey RCMP are currently reviewing an incident involved a teen bitten in the face by a police dog during an arrest on Saturday.

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