The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has cleared a North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP officer of any wrongdoing in the apprehension of a woman under the influence of alcohol on Dec. 30, 2019.
“The purpose of any IIO investigation is to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that an officer, through an action or inaction, may have committed any offence in relation to an incident resulting in serious harm or death,” wrote chief civilian director Ronald J. MacDonald in his decision. “More specifically, the issue to be considered in this case is whether an officer may have used unauthorized or excessive force against the AP (affected person).”
Police were called around 10 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2019 to remove a “severely intoxicated” woman who’d been demanding entry to a home she’d previously agreed not to visit when she’d been drinking.
According to MacDonald’s decision, the woman became belligerent and yelled loudly. In an attempt to handcuff the woman, one officer held one of the woman’s arms and the subject officer held the other as he told her she was being arrested for mischief and causing a disturbance.
The woman “suddenly collapsed to the ground as a ‘dead weight’,” said the report. The woman “flung herself” to the ground and there was a “popping” sound.
“The officers lifted AP by her armpits and helped her to the police vehicle, where she collapsed to the ground again.”
The woman was assessed by paramedics at the detachment before going to the hospital where doctors confirmed she’d broken her left humerus.
“Her blood alcohol concentration, when tested at the hospital, was found to be nearly five times the legal limit for driving,” MacDonald said in the report. “She told investigators that she recalled drinking on the day in question, but had no memory of the incident.”
The IIO determined the officer being accused of excessive force was taking reasonable action.
“They were justified in placing her under arrest and removing her. In those circumstances, handcuffing a detainee before placing her into the police vehicle for transport is normal and proper procedure, to control the individual and ensure the safety of everyone,” the report said. “On the evidence, it is clear that AP became particularly uncooperative at this point, and there is no suggestion that her fall to the ground was anything other than a tactic to thwart the officers’ attempts to escort her away from the residence…It appears that the injury was caused by AP’s deliberate act in dropping to the ground while her arm was restrained.”