A report released by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIO), has found that one Saanich police officer and three Victoria police officers did not use excessive force in the arrest of a woman on July 25, 2017, which resulted in her shoulder being fractured.
The IIO used statements from five civilians, a statement from the Saanich police officer, statements form two VicPD officers, local businesses’ CCTV footage, Emergency Health Services records and medical records to understand what happened.
The incident began at 11:45 a.m. when the woman walked into a local business, and left the property with a tip jar. A staff member of the business followed the woman outside, and saw her holding the jar and a cup of milk.
The staff member asked the woman for the tip jar back, and the woman grabbed the cash, smashed the jar on the sidewalk and threw milk at the staff member. The woman started screaming, and striking the staff member.
An off-duty Saanich police officer was parked in his car nearby and saw the incident.
He got out and asked the staff member what happened, and he arrested the woman, explaining he was a police officer.
Witnesses said the woman began hitting the officer with a pair of shoes she was carrying before he grabbed her left wrist and pinned her arm behind her back. He swept his right foot under her ankle and pushed her to the ground, keeping hold of her.
“In the process I know that she, she was thrown to the ground by that action of mine, quite hard,” the Saanich officer said in his statement. “But I feel I had no, no other options because at this point I was first and foremost worried she would continue to assault me.”
The woman was brought to the ground and the officer pinned her down by keeping her arm pinned to her back, and by holding her down, but he did not kneel on her.
Witnesses said the officer’s head was bleeding quite a lot, and that some of the blood got on the woman, who began to scream, thinking she was bleeding.
The officer and witnesses tried to tell her to remain calm, and that the blood wasn’t hers. One witness used napkins to wipe the officer’s forehead.
Three VicPD officers arrived on scene and assisted the Saanich officer in getting the woman onto her back. Once she was under control, the Saanich officer could step away before the VicPD brought her to a police car.
One witness was quoted as saying that the Saanich officer “Saved the day.”
The IIO conclusion stated that “the force used in this incident was not excessive. All four Subject Officers acted as required by their duties and in accordance with the law.”
No charges were pressed against any officer.