A January arrest in Port Hardy that left a man with a broken ankle was lawful and the use of force by an RCMP officer was justified and proportional, according to the Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO).
Ronald MacDonald, chief civilian director of the IIO, found that before police arrived to arrest the man on Jan. 15, 2019, he was intoxicated and behaving in a manner that caused enough concern for another resident in his home to call police.
MacDonald wrote in the report, the behaviour appeared to have moderated to some degree by the time an RCMP officer arrived at the residence but the man was still intoxicated and yelling and “moved towards the officer moments before the arrest in a manner that would likely have been interpreted as aggressive.” The report states it was not unreasonable for the officer to conclude that if he had left, the man’s previous behaviour was likely to recur.
“In those circumstances, the arrest was lawful and there is no evidence that [the officer’s] use of force was other than justified and proportional,” MacDonald wrote.
MacDonald does not consider that any officer committed an offence and the matter will not be forwarded to Crown counsel for consideration of charges.
The details about the arrest were listed in the report.
On Jan. 15, 2019, two RCMP officers went to an apartment in Port Hardy after they received a call from a resident saying an intoxicated man was being disruptive by yelling and throwing chairs. The officers went to talk to the man, who was also a resident at the same home as the complainant. According to the report, there was a group of several other intoxicated people in the house.
The report said the man initially agreed to leave but began yelling. One of the officers told the man he was under arrest for breach of peace. According to witnesses, the man continued to shout and swear loudly and approached the officer waving his arms. The officer wrote in his own report the man’s fists were clenched and pushed the officer as he came up to him. The officer made the decision to bring the man to the floor with an armbar (armlock), handcuffed him and told him he was under arrest for resisting arrest.
In an interview with the IIO, the man acknowledged raising his arms in a manner that could have been “called aggressiveness” but “it wasn’t…I don’t know what I thought…like I said, I was drunk.”
The other officer was dealing with another man outside the apartment and was called by the first officer to assist with the arrest. That officer told IIO he found the first officer on top of the man, with the man yelling profanities and struggling against being handcuffed. The first officer got the man to his feet and the two officers walked the man out of the residence. The man was unsteady at this time but the officer attributed this to intoxication. Witnesses reported the man did not appear to be injured when he left with police.
The man was then taken to the Port Hardy RCMP detachment.
While in custody in police cells, the man complained of a sore ankle. He was seen at the hospital later the next morning after he was released and was advised he had a broken ankle that required surgery.
During his interview with IIO, the man said from his apartment door to the front door, his leg was fine but then from the building entrance door to the police car, “that was all a black-out.” When he arrived at the cells, he noticed a little limp in his leg and later he woke up to find it throbbing and swelling. He speculated he had injured his ankle on the way to the police vehicle or the officer closed the vehicle door on his ankle, but the report said there is no evidence to support or contradict the speculation.
The report further states what is clear is the man’s only memory of a painful ankle was when he was in police cells and there is no indication from witness accounts or cell block video that the injury occurred while the man was the police detachment.
“The take down by the [officer] is the only evidence of an incident which could have caused injury.”