Moun­tie cleared in brain-in­jury case

Times Colonist - - The Capital And Vancouver Island - LOUISE DICKSON ldick­son@times­colonist.com

A Nanaimo RCMP of­fi­cer has been cleared of any wrong­do­ing in an ar­rest last year that left an in­tox­i­cated man with a trau­matic brain in­jury.

The In­de­pen­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tions Of­fice, which investigates po­li­cein­volved deaths and ma­jor in­juries, con­cluded that the RCMP of­fi­cer’s ac­tions were rea­son­able, ap­pro­pri­ate and nec­es­sary.

The de­ci­sion of Chief Civil­ian Di­rec­tor Ron­ald MacDon­ald also noted that the of­fi­cer demon­strated con­cern and com­pas­sion for the in­jured man.

The in­ci­dent be­gan on the af­ter­noon of Aug. 3, 2017, when B.C. Tran­sit no­ti­fied po­lice that an un­ruly, in­tox­i­cated pas­sen­ger was as­sault­ing pas­sen­gers on a city bus. The man got off the bus 12 min­utes later and walked to­ward a neigh­bour­hood pub, said the IIO de­ci­sion re­leased Thurs­day.

The of­fi­cer re­spond­ing to the call drove to­ward the pub and saw a man sit­ting on the grass nearby. He be­lieved it was the man he was look­ing for, but re­turned to his car for a more com­plete de­scrip­tion of the sus­pect.

While he was do­ing this, the man got up and walked away. The of­fi­cer de­cided to ar­rest the man for be­ing in­tox­i­cated in a pub­lic place and to sort out the al­leged as­saults on the bus later.

By the time he reached the man, the man was sit­ting with his back to a wall. The RCMP of­fi­cer stood him up, be­cause he con­sid­ered it more hu­mil­i­at­ing to hand­cuff some­body sit­ting down, the de­ci­sion said.

The in­tox­i­cated man be­came an­gry and pulled away from the of­fi­cer.

The of­fi­cer didn’t think he could hand­cuff the man in a stand­ing po­si­tion with­out as­sis­tance. But be­cause he was us­ing both his hands to con­trol him, he couldn’t call for as­sis­tance.

The Moun­tie thought about tak­ing the man to the ground, but was con­cerned that one of them would get hurt, said the de­ci­sion.

He man­aged to get one hand­cuff on the man, but still didn’t have con­trol of him. At this point, he used a tech­nique called the steel arm bar to bring the man to the ground.

“He went down and I heard a smack sound when he hit the ground,” the of­fi­cer told in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

He quickly re­al­ized the man was un­con­scious and un­re­spon­sive. He called for an am­bu­lance.

The IIO con­cluded that the in­tox­i­cated man pre­sented a phys­i­cal threat to the of­fi­cer. If the man freed his hand­cuffed arm, he could use the hand­cuffs as a weapon.

The IIO found the in­juries — a bro­ken nose, two orbital frac­tures (frac­tures to the bone of the eye socket) and a trau­matic brain in­jury — were ac­ci­den­tal and the man’s level of in­tox­i­ca­tion likely played a role in the fact he went down awk­wardly.

The steel-arm-bar tech­nique is a com­mon method to gain con­trol of an un­ruly per­son and rarely re­sults in sig­nif­i­cant in­jury, said the re­port.

The in­jured man had no rec­ol­lec­tion of any in­ter­ac­tion with po­lice or emer­gency health ser­vices and does not re­mem­ber be­ing near the pub. A blood sam­ple taken at the hos­pi­tal showed he was ex­tremely in­tox­i­cated.

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