The Independent Investigations Office of BC has determined that there was not sufficient evidence to support a Duncan man’s claim that his jaw was injured by police when he was taken into custody in August 2017.
Two officers had been apprehending the man under the Mental Health Act on Aug 24, 2017, and the man later alleged his jaw was injured during his apprehension by police. The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) then started an investigation to determine if there was any connection between the actions of the officers and the man’s injuries.
According to the report, at 8:41 a.m., Duncan RCMP had gone to the man’s residence shortly after he was reported as suicidal. The man denied suicidal thoughts and officers left without incident as they did not find sufficient grounds for apprehension under the Mental Health Act.
At 11:30 a.m., the man called 911 and said he had been assaulted by an unknown man and his jaw “really hurt.” The IIO said the man said there were witnesses to the assault and he initially wanted charges laid but then, citing his anxiety and depression, said he didn’t want to speak to anyone in person about his complaint and told the 911 operator to forget about it.
“On the 911 audio recording, AP [the affected person] sounds intoxicated and quite distressed, periodically crying,” the report said.
According to the report, one of the officers called the man shortly after. The man once again said he was punched in the jaw by an unknown man and his right arm “was now paralyzed.” The man told the officer he had left the location where the alleged assault took place and the unknown man had rode away on his bicycle. The officer took down a description of the suspect.
The report said at 1:10 p.m., Duncan Mental Health reported the man was suicidal. The same officers went back to the residence, apprehended the man under the Mental Health Act and transported to the hospital. The report said while the man was being taken into custody, the officers did grab the man by the arm before taking him to the ground and told him he needed to listen as he was apprehended and they were taking him to the hospital. The officer recalling the incident said the man said he wasn’t going to go with them.
That same officer said when the man was face-down on the ground, she did not hear any particularly loud sounds and did not see if the man hit his head on the ground.
The man did not make any mention of his jaw while he was being taken into custody, the report said. The officers did not see any new injuries to a man when they arrived at the hospital. When he was being triaged, the man started complaining about his jaw. Medical records indicate the man suffered a left mandibular ramus fracture and a nasal bone fracture. Medical evidence could not establish when the jaw was broken.
The man was interviewed by the IIO on Sept. 1, 2017, and said he did not have any head or jaw injuries before the officers arrived at his trailer. He said earlier that day he was in a “scuffle” with an unknown man and while he was pushed, he did not fall down or have any marks.
“AP was adamant he had not sustained any injury from that ‘scuffle’ with the man. AP was not able to recall any witnesses to the incident,” the report said.
Ronald J. MacDonald, chief civilian director of the IIO, said the man’s statement to the 911 operator, police and the IIO were inconsistent. On two occasions, the man said his jaw hurt as a result of a punch from another individual. This was prior to his interaction with police. MacDonald said.
MacDonald said the only evidence that the man’s injuries relate to a police officer is from the man himself. According to MacDonald, the man also reported to 911 that he had been injured when he was “sucker punched two times, that he had a “really bad jaw,” and his jaw “really hurt.” The 911 call was recorded.
“Following a review of the evidence collected during the course of this investigation, there is insufficient evidence to consider that an officer may have committed any offence during this interaction between AP and police,” MacDonald said.
“Accordingly, as the Chief Civilian Director of the IIO, I do not consider that any of the attending officers may have committed an offence under any enactment and therefore this matter will not be referred to Crown counsel.”