R v Prystay, 2019 ABPC 8

Decision on sentencing for charge of assaulting police dog.

Background: At the time of the incident, Prystay was in his mid-thirties and had a lengthy criminal record. Most of the convictions involved drugs or property offences. However, there are a few convictions that relate to violence such as assault causing bodily harm. Prystay grew up in an abusive home and his stepfather was a heavy drug user. Prystay’s biological father had gang connections and was known to sell drugs. Prystay started using hard drugs at the age of thirteen and had his first youth conviction by the age of fifteen for shooting his friend in the stomach while high. Prystay started a new relationship with a woman while in remand and started seeing a doctor to help with his ADHD and his drug addiction.

Facts: Prystay did not stop his vehicle while the police were pursuing him, and he was followed by the Air 1 (Edmonton Police Service Helicopter). The pursuit went on for over an hour, and the police helicopter watched Prystay drive recklessly and dangerously through traffic. Police finally stopped the motor vehicle by using a “stop stick” that flattened the tires of the vehicle when Prystay drove over it. Prystay then fled on foot and a police dog was sent after him. Prystay continued to resist the arrest by fighting and wrestling with the police dog – this led to the police dog receiving multiple cuts to his snout. During the chase and before being arrested, Prystay dropped 79.5 grams of Methamphetamine and located inside his car was $800 in cash and a loaded .22 Calibre handgun. After Prystay was arrested, he needed to be hospitalized for injuries to him arm and hand and needed 27 stitches.

Analysis: The judge accepted the Crown and Defence Counsel’s joint submission for sentencing as they found it appropriate for the circumstances. Full analysis done on s 12 Charter breach for administrative segregation but that is not relevant to the animal abuse charges the police dog endured.

Sentencing: The judge found there was a s 12 Charter violation (while in remand for the current charges, Prystay was put into Administrative Segregation after injuring another inmate, and the segregation was found to be cruel and unusual treatment for the situation), and this altered sentencing. After considering a sentence reduction, the judge found that four years and ten months was appropriate and that a stay was not appropriate. Of the four years and ten months, only six months were related to the abuse against the police dog (s 445.01 of the Criminal Code).