Six Victoria police officers whose actions were investigated after a man’s ribs were broken while he was being arrested last year have been cleared by the province’s police watchdog.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of BC was called to investigate after a man was injured while being arrested on June 5. The man suffered broken ribs and a pneumothorax, which is excess air between the lungs and chest wall.
According to the report, a man was seen on the front lawn of the complex where he lived burning a pair of rubber boots with a hand-held blowtorch on June 5. Later that day, a nieghbour complained that a burning rubber smell was coming from the man’s unit and 911 was called.
Two police officers went to the man’s residence. One of them spoke to the man briefly thorugh the window. They then spoke with a mental health professional nearby and were advised the man’s neighbours were fearful because the man had threatened to kill one of them. The officers were also told that two weeks prior, the man had cut the live electrical wire for his stove and discarded his stove onto the lawn of the property.
The officers then decided the man should be apprehended pursuant to the Mental Health Act. During the apprehnsion, one of the officers requested further Victoria police members come to the man’s residence due to a struggle with the man. The man was eventually taken to hospital by an ambulance.
According to IIO, the Mental Health Act provides for police apprehension of a person who is “acting in a manner likely to endanger that person’s own safety or the safety of others” and is “apparently a person with a mental disoder.”
“A police officer who is acting as required or authorized by law is, if he acts on reasonable grounds, justified in doing what he is required or authorized to do and in using as much force as is necessary for that purpose,” Ronald J. MacDonald, the IIO’s chief civilian director, said in the report released on Tuesday.
The report said not one of the witnesses, neither civilian or police, suggested excessive or unreasonable force was used to apprehend the man and all witnesses agreed that the man was unreasonably uncooperative with the police.
“There is no evidence that any officer used excessive or unreasonable force,” the report said.
“The evidence collected does not provide grounds to consider any charges against any officer. Indeed, the evidence shows that the officers acted as required by their duties and in accordance with the law.”
MacDonald said there is no evidence to show the injury happened during the man’s interaction with police and if it did, it was an accidental result of the man’s ongoing struggle and not from excessive or unnecessary force of the officers.
“Accordingly, as the Chie Civilian Director of the IIO, I do not consider that an officer may have committed an offence under any enactment and therefore, the matter will not be referred to Crown counsel for consideration of charges,” MacDonald said.