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Target of Prince George arrest testifies at trial for RCMP dog handler

Cuyler Aubichon says his hands were up when a police dog was used to pull him out of a stolen pickup truck

The target of an arrest caught on camera for which a former Prince George RCMP dog handler is now on trial says his hands were up where police could see them when a dog was used to pull him out of a stolen pickup truck and put him to the ground.

Cst. Joshua Grafton faces one count each of assault, assault with a weapon and obstruction of justice in relation to an early-morning Feb. 18, 2016 apprehension of Cuyler Aubichon in an alleyway off the 2200 block of Oak Street. 

Testifying Monday at the Prince George courthouse, Aubichon said he was driving the pickup slowly through the alley after noticing what appeared to be a police vehicle while attempting to locate a bag of methamphetamine and put it down his pant.

In "no time" a police vehicle with its emergency lights on was "bumper to bumper" with the front of the pickup. An officer got out of the driver's side, drew his gun and pointed it at Aubichon, over top of the police vehicle's door, the court heard.

"Like loud, like screaming, like put your fucking hands up," Aubichon said when asked about the officer's tone.

Aubichon said the officer repeated the phrase about four times. Aubichon was simultaneously trying to stuff a bag of methamphetamine down his pants while trying to obey the officer's command, the court heard.

"The first time, I had one hand up because I'd been trying to put the drugs down my pants and he said it again and I put it all the way down my pants and put my other hand up right away because I was worried I was going to get shot, or that's what it sounded like to me," Aubichon said.

Aubichon said his friend, Nathaniel Basil, who was occupying the passenger seat, also had his hands up. 

Aubichon said he saw headlights from behind as well as from ahead and that he and Basil had been boxed in from both directions. 

Aubichon said his hands were still up when he heard a "cop dog barking from behind me."

"The door opened and the dog jumped up and pulled me out of the vehicle onto the ground and I was on the ground on my stomach," Aubichon said.

Face down on the ground and with his hands out to brace himself from falling and where police could see them, Aubichon said police told him to stop resisting. He said he was being struck in the head and the back with what felt like an object while the dog was pulling on one of his arms.

Aubichon said he was not warned about the police dog and could not see who was striking him.

"It felt like being hit in two places at the same time," Aubichon said and could not recall how many times he had been hit.

Aubichon also said an officer had a knee on the back of his head and was trying to cooperate with commands to put his arms behind his back, but was unable to because the dog still had a grip.

He said a knee was still on the back of his head or neck area and his face was being pushed into the dirt when the dog was released. By then, the officers were "laughing around, saying stuff to each other." 

"They called me a dirty Indian," Aubichon said. "They were like cheering each other on kind of about what happened."

Once in handcuffs, Aubichon said he told police there was a needle in one of his pockets prior to being patted down. 

He said the trip to the Prince George RCMP detachment was uneventful, but he was the subject of a strip search after the bag of methamphetamine fell out of the waistband of his pants.

Aubichon said the dog bites caused his arm to bleed and swell and left him with some nerve damage so he couldn't lift himself up to get into bed. He also said he suffered bruising to the colour on his ribs and was bleeding from a gash to his head.

Video from the security camera showed Aubichon's pickup lurching forward. Aubichon said that was because it was still in drive and there was not enough time to put it into park before he was told to put his hands up. He also denied revving the engine.

Aubichon said he and Basil had gone to the home where the camera had been in place so Basil could buy him some heroin. In exchange, he said Basil was going to take the truck to the smaller communities around Prince George and "go boosting or stealing from stores."

Earlier that morning, he said they had both been snorting methamphetamine from the pickup's centre console. Aubichon said he had been consuming so much of the drug at the time that he was doing so only to "feel normal."

Charges against two officers in relation to Basil's arrest were stayed by Crown counsel in October, cutting short a trial in the process.

Direct examination by Crown counsel continues today in the trial for Grafton with cross examination by defence counsel to follow. The trial is before judge alone in provincial court.