Cst. Paul Ste-Marie, accused in the death of Dale Culver, has been moved to administrative duties.
The Tyee: A Prince George RCMP officer is undergoing a code of conduct investigation after he was charged with assault this week — his second criminal charge this year.
In February, Cst. Paul Ste-Marie was charged with manslaughter in the 2017 death of Wet’suwet’en-Gitxsan man Dale Culver. He and another officer, Cst. Jean Francois Monette, plead not guilty in June and are scheduled to stand trial next year.
When the manslaughter charges were announced, both officers remained on active duty, according to the force.
But an RCMP spokesperson confirmed this week that Ste-Marie has been moved to administrative duties as he undergoes the conduct review. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance on the recent charge on Oct. 4.
Few details have been provided about the alleged assault, which was announced by the BC Prosecution Service Tuesday. In a media statement, Crown prosecutors said they would move ahead based on Ste-Marie’s “involvement in the arrest of an individual that is alleged to have occurred on Aug. 22, 2022.” No other details or information about the alleged victim were made available.
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The incident was investigated by Quesnel RCMP, the prosecution service said. B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office, which investigates police-related incidents causing death or serious harm, confirmed it was not involved with the investigation.
Debbie Pierre, Culver’s cousin, called the alleged assault just five years after her cousin’s death “appalling.” She said the family has been asking the RCMP whether the officers involved have a history of violence against Indigenous people.
They have not received a response, she said. “Many witnesses continue to live in fear of retaliation from the RCMP in Prince George,” Pierre said.
Culver died after being pepper sprayed while he was being taken into custody in Prince George on July 18, 2017. His family has expressed frustration over the delays in the justice system.
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Three additional RCMP officers face related charges of attempting to obstruct justice following Culver’s death. Cst. Arthur Dalman, Cst. Alex MacDonald and Sgt. Jon Eusebio Cruz pled not guilty last week in Prince George court.
BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee said his thoughts are with the survivor of the alleged assault and their family as they navigate the criminal justice system.
“The news of a new assault charge against Prince George RCMP Cst. Paul Ste-Marie, who is already facing a manslaughter charge for the death of Dale Culver from the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan First Nations, is profoundly disheartening,” Teegee said in a statement to The Tyee.
“This underscores the pressing need for a comprehensive national endeavour to overhaul and reform our justice system.”
Amanda Follett Hosgood, The Tyee
Amanda Follett Hosgood is The Tyee’s northern B.C. reporter. She lives in Wet’suwet’en territory. Find her on Twitter @amandajfollett.