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

There has been COVID-19 exposures at two elementary schools in District 42. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases

This includes three school exposures in Kelowna

The village is looking to install another 91 metres of breakwater at the marina. Photo: JD Mah
Village staff applying for $2.1 million in grants to complete three infrastructure projects

Projects include new biomass system at arena, breakwater and stormwater repairs

Enrolment is up overall in the district. Photo: Nakusp Elementary School
Enrolment at SD 10 schools skyrocket

Enrolment numbers have increased by 10 percent between Sept. 2019 and Sept. 2020

Katrine Conroy has won for the fifth time in the Kootenay West riding. Photo: Submitted
Katrine Conroy ready to tackle challenges after election

Conroy won the Kootenay West riding for the fifth time

A view of the Burton Flats area. Photo: Submitted
Work progresses on man-made wetland near Burton

The project is already seeing modest results

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

Most Read