A Nanaimo RCMP member will not face any charges after a woman suffered a broken leg while being detained under the Mental Health Act earlier this year.
The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. released its decision today, Oct. 6, in relation to an incident that happened March 18 at a residential facility operated by the Vancouver Island Mental Health Society.
The complainant was angry and “verbally threatening” toward facility staff, the report noted, and one of the officers who was called to the scene told investigators that “there was more than sufficient grounds for a mental health apprehension.”
The first RCMP officer to arrive attempted to talk to the woman, but she continually backed away and went down into the building’s basement before eventually re-emerging to smoke a cigarette. Once a second officer arrived at the scene, the complainant said she became “scared for my life.” The officers reportedly chased the woman around a police car and she said she resisted being handcuffed before she was taken down to the ground. A witness told investigators “it looked like an appropriate takedown … a supported fall, not a push,” and police did not use any other force such as punches or kicks.
The complainant said she immediately knew something was wrong with her leg, and a witness said the woman was hopping on one leg and complaining her leg was broken as she was helped into the police vehicle. The woman was taken to hospital and her broken leg was surgically repaired.
The IIO report found that “a significant amount of effort went into unsuccessful attempts at negotiation and persuasion” before physical force was used.
“It is unfortunate that [the complainant]’s leg was injured in that manoeuvre, but there is no indication that [the officer] used unnecessary or excessive force at any point … It seems clear that the move to the ground was well within the bounds of what was reasonable in the circumstances,” the report summarized.