Mexican consulate wants answers after ‘assault’ on farmworker by Abbotsford police

Consulate says farmworker injured after being punched & kicked by officer and attacked by police dog

The Mexican consulate in Vancouver wants answers after one of its citizens in Abbotsford was allegedly punched and kicked by officers and attacked by a police dog Sunday evening.

The man, a temporary worker at an Abbotsford berry farm, was taken bleeding and bruised to hospital Sunday and later released. The next day, the General Consulate of Mexico sent an email to Abbotsford Police Chief Mike Serr detailing the incident, which occurred while officers were searching for two suspects in a major drug smuggling case near the U.S. border. The consulate said two farmworkers were detained at gunpoint, and it called for an investigation into the officers involved.

“For the Mexican government, this incident and the way it was carried out is extremely worrying,” the consulate wrote.

The Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner (OPCC) is now investigating.

In a news release that didn’t mention the incident with the farmworkers, the RCMP announced Thursday that officers had arrested one of two men suspected of using an ATV and a trailer to smuggle a huge amount of methamphetamine over the border near Mt. Lehman Road. Officers from the RCMP’s Border Integrity Enforcement Team, Abbotsford Police and US Border Patrol were all in the area at the time.

But the Mexican consulate said the search for the suspects left an innocent farmworker bleeding and bruised after being punched and kicked by a police officer and attacked by a police dog. That farmworker was one of two who were held at gunpoint by officers.

On Monday, the Mexican consulate wrote Serr to ask for an investigation. In the diplomatic note, which was provided to The News Thursday, the consulate said that on the night of the drug bust, two workers called its emergency line to request help “after being assaulted by police officers.”

Both workers were temporary foreign workers at Berry Haven Farm on Mt. Lehman Road, close to where the drug smugglers crossed the border from the United States.

RELATED: Police seize nearly 200 kg of meth near U.S. border in Abbotsford

The first worker reported that he was outside housing at the farm and using his phone, when he was “suddenly ordered to lay on the ground and was punched, kicked and attacked by a police dog, as well as being pointed at with a gun,” according to the consulate note. “The second national reports that he was also using his phone and was surprised to see his coworker attacked and, while that happened, was also told to lay on the floor at gunpoint by police.”

The first worker was released from police custody and taken to hospital, where he was treated for bleeding, scratches and bruises across his body, the consulate told The News. He was later released from hospital.

“Based on the foregoing, the Consulate respectfully requests the initiation of an investigation into the motives and conduct of the police officers who carried out the assault, in order to determine the possible sanctions that correspond according to the law and the compensation of the damage caused to the victims, where appropriate,” the consulate’s complaint says.

The complaint identified an Abbotsford Police officer as the dog handler, but was unclear about the affiliation of the two other officers involved in the incident.

Copies of the complaint were sent to Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun, Premier John Horgan, B.C. Police Complaint Commissioner Clayton Pecknold and Carla Qualtrough, the federal minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.

“The Consulate avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Abbotsford Police Department the assurances of its highest and distinguished consideration and will be thankful if the Department acknowledges receipt of this note.”

The consul general told The News that more than 1,000 seasonal workers come to Abbotsford each year to work on farms around the city.

The Abbotsford Police Department issued a statement that said that, during the search for the drug-smuggling suspects, “individuals were found, detained and later released when it was determined they were not the suspects.”

The statement confirmed that the OPCC has begun an investigation and assigned the Vancouver Police Department to conduct the probe. The OPCC investigates complaints involving municipal police departments, but not the RCMP, which has a separate complaints process.

“The Abbotsford Police Department and RCMP have ensured there are open lines of communications between our agencies and the Mexican Consulate in order to address the matter and the concerns raised,” the statement says. “We are confident that the investigation will ensure that the circumstances and actions of the officers are fully investigated.”

RCMP Cpl. Dan Michaud, the media relations officer who spoke about the drug bust, said the force had no comment on the complaints about the conduct of officers. He said no such complaint had been made “at the RCMP level.”

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Missing mushroom picker found “alive and well” after three-day search in Ucluelet

“It’s always great to have a positive outcome like this.”

Ucluelet mayor criticizes province’s lack of communication as highway closures resume

Daily closures return to only highway in and out of Tofino-Ucluelet

HISTORY COLUMN: Reflecting on the 32nd anniversary of Canada’s apology to Japanese-Canadians

Japanese-Canadians an integral part of Tofino and Ucluelet’s history.

Extravagant marriage proposal in Ucluelet

“It was such a dream. He brought a dream to life. No one does this anymore.”

Tofino-Ucluelet region rallies around injured five-month-old puppy

A Hitacu puppy is home and healing after being struck by a vehicle in Hitacu

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Cops for Cancer: COVID-19 can’t stop Tour de Rock

‘having the chance to come back and ride this year means everything to me’

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

Most Read