Veteran RCMP dog handler accused of striking suspect in the face

A veteran Red Deer RCMP officer and dog handler has been charged with assault after a suspect was allegedly struck in the face after being apprehended during an early-morning arrest in August 2008.

A veteran Red Deer RCMP officer and dog handler has been charged with assault after a suspect was allegedly struck in the face after being apprehended during an early-morning arrest in August 2008.

Cpl. Francois (Frank) Paquin, 46, a 21-year veteran, faces one count of assault after allegedly striking a suspect on Aug. 31.

The incident happened after police responded to a robbery at the Eastview Express 24 about 1:49 a.m. While on scene, police saw a pickup race by at high speed.

When police gave chase, the vehicle stopped and five males jumped out and ran.

The dog team was called in to help find the group. Three were tracked to a stand of trees near 30th Avenue and Cornett Drive.

“When ordered to come out, it is alleged they failed to do so,” says a news release from RCMP K Division spokesman Cpl. Wayne Oakes. “The police dog was sent in and assisted in apprehending one of the suspects.

“It is alleged the dog handler, Cpl. Francois Paquin, then assaulted the individual by striking him in the face.”

Oakes said he could not provide more detail on the alleged assault or if the man was injured because it will be considered evidence.

“I know he was taken to hospital. That, I think, was a result of being apprehended by the police service dog.”

All five people who were in the pickup were arrested and charged in relation to a traffic accident earlier that night. They were not involved in the robbery.

Asked why the charge was only coming to light after eight months, Oakes said that, as with any other criminal allegation, a full investigation must take place before a charge is laid. Also, when charges relate to a police officer, they must go to Alberta Justice Special Prosecutions for review.

“Sometimes that does take a fair amount of time,” he said.

Paquin remains on active duty with Red Deer RCMP’s dog unit. He has been stationed in Red Deer since May 2007.

He is scheduled to appear in Red Deer provincial court today.

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