Man awaiting trial for repeatedly trying to ram Okanagan police cruisers refused release, despite COVID-19 - InfoNews

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Man awaiting trial for repeatedly trying to ram Okanagan police cruisers refused release, despite COVID-19

An inmate at the Okanagan Correctional Centre has launched a civil suit against the B.C. Ministry of Justice after he allegedly slipped and fell on a freshly mopped floor.
April 17, 2020 - 5:20 PM

COVID-19 may be changing just about everything, but it isn't enough to set free one prolific offender in prison who allegedly tried to ram a stolen truck into multiple police cruisers last November.

Dean Patrick Peters is currently being held in Okanagan Correctional Centre awaiting trial, and was before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Gary Weatherill April 3 for a detention review hearing.

He is one of many prisoners looking to have their conditions changed based on concerns about COVID-19 within the prison. While some have been let out early, he wasn't among their ranks.

"In the last few weeks, a new factor for consideration in detention review hearings has been the COVID-19 epidemic that, by all accounts, is expected to worsen over the days and weeks ahead," Weatherill said in the decision posted online April 17.

"There is no question that COVID-19 is a serious matter that cannot be ignored. It is highly contagious and by now has probably reached every community in the province. As we know from (April 2) news, it has now reached OCC where Mr. Peters is currently being held."

That said, while COVID-19 is a factor that must be considered in balancing Peters' rights as a man who is innocent until proven guilty, Weatherill also had to weigh the safety of the public.

"Given the circumstances and his history of non-compliance with court orders, I simply have no confidence that he will abide by the terms of the release plan that he has put forward," Weatherill said.

"In other words, his release plan does not adequately address the serious concerns I have about his respect for and ability to comply with court orders or the law."

Peters's upcoming trial has to do with driving while prohibited under the Motor Vehicle Act on July 7, 2019 and a seven-count indictment related to events that occurred on Nov. 16, 2019.

The latter, seven-count indictment relates to events in West Kelowna, Peachland, Aspen Grove, and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, where Peters, along with other criminal offences, allegedly rammed police cruisers while in a stolen vehicle.

It all started when a licence plate was reported stolen on Nov. 14, 2019 from the B.C. Forestry compound in West Kelowna and on the next day, a grey 1999 Ford F-250 truck belonging to another person was reported stolen from a Fountain Tire location in West Kelowna.

At 5:55 p.m. on Nov. 16, 2019, a police officer on routine patrol in West Kelowna observed a truck driving through a set of lights on Old Okanagan Highway with no taillights on.

"She queried the plates and determined it did belong to another truck," Weatherill said.

"She also observed that the rear window of the truck was missing with a plastic cover over it."

The police officer turned on her emergency lights in an attempt to pull the truck over, which didn't indicate it intended to stop.

"The officer blasted the cruiser's siren to get the driver's attention and the driver's response was to increase the truck's speed," Weatherill said. "The officer determined that the truck was attempting to evade the police and discontinued the pursuit and radioed for assistance."

Other officers were called in and a police chase through multiple jurisdictions including on the highway between West Kelowna and Aspen Grove, back toward West Kelowna and through the Peachland area where the pursuit concluded.

"Throughout, the RCMP officers exercised caution and did not engage in a police chase. They unsuccessfully attempted the use of a spike belt on two occasions," Weatherill said.

"At one point, the driver of the truck, who was later identified as the accused, caused the truck to sideswipe a marked police cruiser with its emergency lights activated and with two police officers inside."

Attempts to persuade the accused to stop the truck were unsuccessful. At one point, he allegedly reversed the truck into a civilian vehicle that was stopped on the Coquihalla Connector before driving off.

Various police officers at various locations on the route kept the truck in sight at a safe distances.

"All told, the accused is alleged to have slowed his truck, slammed on the brakes and attempted to ram police cruisers on between 12 to 15 occasions requiring police officers to take evasive action," Weatherill said.

The accused continued his travels, avoided spike belts and made a U-turn driving across the meridian striking another police cruiser in the process.

"He then travelled towards Peachland at a high rate of speed driving erratically across centrelines into oncoming traffic seemingly endangering civilian drivers in the process," he said.

RCMP then decided that he had to be forced off the road to avoid a risk of injury to the public or the police.

"Peters was allegedly non-compliant with the officers’ demands, resulting in them drawing their weapons and smashing the truck's window in order to remove him from the truck," Weatherill said.

"He then allegedly continued to struggle with the officers requiring them to use force to subdue him."

He was finally arrested. At the scene, the accused spontaneously stated to the officers that he was on speed and then was taken into custody.

Peters is not a first-time offender. He has some 36 convictions including one for assault, two for driving while prohibited, one for dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, one for obstruction, and nine breaches of bail conditions or probation. His driving record is not much better and includes a history of driving without a licence and driving contrary to class.

The province has released multiple inmates from the Okanagan Correctional Centre prior to the end of their sentence after an inmate tested positive for COVID-19 on April 1.

Early releases are provided by granting a temporary absence, B.C. Corrections has said and it does not mean a sentence has ended and/or is suspended, instead the sentence runs concurrently to the temporary absence. B.C. Corrections may rescind a temporary absence if/when warranted.


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