October 11, 2018 4:39 pm
Updated: October 11, 2018 5:07 pm

“We didn’t want to tase him in front of his mum:” IIO report

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. says three police officers were just doing their duty while apprehending a Kelowna, B.C., resident under the Mental Health Act.

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An investigation found police not to blame for fracturing two bones of a Kelowna resident while arresting him under the Mental Health Act.

On Thursday, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. released its decision that involved three officers apprehending a man, who, by his own words, was “too out of it to comprehend what they were trying to say.” The man — who, according to his mother, has a brain injury and mental disability — was arrested at his home on Dec. 1, 2017. He is listed as being approximately 6-foot-1 and 300 pounds.

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In talking to IIO investigators, the man said he was home alone, when his mother and a mental health worker arrived. The man said he was told to go to his mother’s house or the hospital, neither of which he wanted to do. The mental health worker then called police, with the arrest taking place shortly thereafter. During the arrest, the man suffered a fracture of his left tibial plateau (shinbone, near the knee) and a fracture to the left shoulder blade.

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The man said police talked to him, but they harassed him verbally and physically, and made him get off his couch. “They put their knee in my back and forced me to the ground and cuffed me.”

The man also said “when I was arrested eventually and cuffed, I was sitting against my fridge. They pushed me forwards and they pulled my knee and an officer broke it and bent it backwards on purpose, not by accident on purpose.”

He also said “they pushed all their knees, three guys’ knees on my shin bone and broke it.”

The mother told investigators that she went to her son’s home on that day because she had concerns about him. She also told investigators that she had contacted a mental health worker who had previously worked with the man.

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The mother said she heard the mental health worker ask her son if he was hearing another voice, to which the son responded yes. He was also asked if he was listening to another voice, to which he also responded yes. The mental health worker recommended that he should go to his mother’s house or the hospital to see a doctor.

The man did not want to leave his apartment, and at one point said the mental health worker was “a member of the Shriners.” The incident apparently escalated to the point where the mental health worker called for assistance, and, approximately 30 minutes later, police arrived.

The mother told the IIO that two officers “both were trying to be respectful and firm in their tone,” but the man didn’t want to leave his apartment.

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The report says one officer talked to the man for 15 minutes, but that he refused to co-operate. When officers tried to handcuff him, a scuffle ensued, with one officer being forcefully tossed into the doorway towards the hall.

After being apprehended under the Mental Health Act, an ambulance was called, with a second ambulance crew called to provide sedation.

The mother said the officers were “trying their best to get (the man) to the ground, but it wasn’t a very good spot,” and that she “did not believe the officers were trying to hurt (him).”

The mother also said one officer told her “I’m sorry how that went down. It was a really tight area and your son has really big wrists. He’s a big guy (and) it was really tough handcuffing him (and) . . . we didn’t want to tase him, we didn’t want to tase him in front of his mum.”

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The mother also said after her son was moved into the ambulance “I remember he tried to bite them once when he was on the stretcher; all he had left was his mouth.”

In its summation, the IIO said “Officers 1, 2 and 3 were performing their duty by apprehending (the man). (The man’s) mother and mental health worker made no allegations that police acted inappropriately.”

Further, the IIO stated “the evidence collected does not provide any grounds to consider any charges against any officer. Indeed, the evidence shows that officers 1, 2 and 3 acted as required by their duties as police officers. Had (the man) co-operated with the requests of the officers, no injury would have occurred.”

In the five-page report, the IIO noted that officers who are the subject of an investigation are not compelled to submit their notes, reports and data. In this case, two officers declined to provide a statement or their notes, reports and data, while the third officer provided two written statements.

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