A Port Hardy RCMP officer will not face any charges after a January, 2019 arrest of a man who broke his ankle during the incident.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of B.C. released a report Tuesday saying the Jan. 15 arrest was lawful and the RCMP officer involved used force that was justified and appropriate.
“I do not consider that any officer may have committed an offence under any enactment and therefore the matter will not be referred to Crown counsel for consideration of charges,” Ronald J. MacDonald, IIO Chief Civilian Director, wrote in his April 2 report.
The investigation arose from an incident on Jan. 15 in Port Hardy in which the police responded to a call from a resident at an apartment building alleging disruptive behaviour on the part of an intoxicated male who was not named in the report. The male was reported to have been yelling and throwing chairs. Two officers attended the call where the perpetrator was in a home with a group of several other intoxicated people.
One of the officers – the “subject officer” of the investigation who was not named – told the aggressive individual that he was under arrest for breach of the peace. That didn’t calm the individual down, however, and he continued to shout and swear loudly. The officer reported that the perpetrator approached the officer waving his arms with fists clenched. The Mountie testified that he took the arrestee “to the floor using an ‘armbar’ and handcuffed him, telling him he was now under arrest for resisting arrest,” the IIO report says.
The arrestee admitted to behaving in a manner that could have been called “aggressiveness” but “it wasn’t … I don’t know what I thought … like I said, I was drunk.”
The other officer on the call had been outside at this point dealing with another man and was called in to assist the first Mountie who then got the intoxicated male to his feet and walked him out of the residence. According to the second officer, the arrested man was unsteady but he attributed that to intoxication, rather than injury. Witnesses in the room said that the drunk man did not appear to be injured when he left with police.
The man was placed in the RCMP cells where his injury was soon observed. His ankle was swelling and he asked to see a doctor but medical staff were not available at the local hospital until the morning.
A third officer began his shift the next morning and found the arrested individual sufficiently sober to be released and offered to take him to the hospital. The man first agreed and then declined, preferring to go home. Later that morning he was taken to hospital via ambulance from his home.
He was diagnosed with a broken right ankle which was subsequently repaired by surgery.
During the investigation by IIO personnel, the injured man was unable to determine when or how he broke his leg. From the apartment door to the front door, he was fine, he told investigators, but from front door to the police vehicle was all “a blackout.” When he arrived at the cells he said he had a limp and his ankle was throbbing and swelling.
He speculated that he had injured his ankle on the way to the police vehicle or that the arresting officer might have closed the vehicle door on his ankle but there is no evidence to support or contradict that speculation, the IIO report says. The takedown by the arresting officer is the only evidence of an incident which could have caused the injury.
The purpose of any IIO investigation is to determine whether an officer, through an action or inaction, may have committed any offence in relation to the incident that led to the injury of the intoxicated male.
“A police officer who is acting as required or authorized by law is, if he acts on reasonable grounds, justified in doing what he is required or authorized to do, and in using as much force as is necessary for that purpose,” the report says. “In this case, the issue is not the amount or nature of the force used by SO (subject officer), which appears to have been moderate, but whether the officer was acting lawfully in the execution of his duty in arresting AP, initially, for breach of the peace.”
The investigator concludes that “the arrest was lawful and there is no evidence that SO’s use of force was other than justified and proportional.”