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B.C. IIO not recommending charges after ‘drunk’ woman suffers broken arm during arrest

Sign for the Independent Investigations Office of B.C.
The IIO's mandate is to investigate any incident where police actions or inactions may have caused harm or death to a civilian person. Independent Investigations Office

A woman described as being black-out drunk had her arm broken while being arrested, but the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. isn’t recommending charges against police.

On Friday, the IIO released its findings into the winter incident in Salmon Arm, with chief civilian director Ronald J. MacDonald saying the matter won’t be forwarded to Crown counsel to consider charges because there aren’t reasonable grounds to believe that the subject officer may have committed an offence.

According to the IIO, police were called to a home on the evening of Feb. 13, where a party was taking place, with the woman becoming intoxicated and rowdy.

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The report says a neighbour called the police because the woman was heard screaming and thought someone was in distress.

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Three police officers arrived, and the woman was asked to leave the residence, but she refused.

“A confrontation developed, and the (woman) was told she was under arrest,” reads the report. “In the course of that arrest, (the woman) suffered a broken arm.”

The IIO said it gathered statements from the woman, four witnesses and two police officers, along with cellphone video plus video and audio recordings from a police dashcam, along with medical evidence.

The report said the woman told the IIO she “recalled being at the party, intoxicated, but said she could not remember a lot of details about the incident.” She said she remembered hearing “her elbow pop as her arms were pulled behind her back.”

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One witness told IIO investigators that “(the woman) had been blind drunk,” while another “described (the woman) as black-out drunk.”

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Both recalled the arrest, with each saying police appeared to be calm and restrained. The second witness said he didn’t see officers do anything that would have caused an injury.

A third witness though, who came to pick up the woman, contradicted the other two.

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“He said he heard a female officer yelling (at the woman), and was trying to get her into his truck. He then saw the female officer grab the woman’s hand, telling her she was under arrest,” reads the report.

The witness described the woman as being “slammed against his vehicle, with male officers on either side, and the female officer behind, applying handcuffs.”

The report also mentioned that the woman may or may not have slapped or swung at an officer during the arrest. However, the report noted, “there is no doubt that the officers needed to apply a degree of force to restrain her.”

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During the arrest, the female officer said the woman “started flailing, making her hard to control,” so she pushed her up against a parked vehicle and started to apply handcuffs.

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The officer said the woman swung a free arm at her, with the officer then grabbing the woman’s hair and pushing her face against a window, while one of the male officers (subject officer) grabbed the woman’s right arm. That arm suffered a fractured humerus bone.

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“Once the woman was secured in handcuffs, the female officer drove her from the scene,” reads the report. “On the way to the detachment, she received a radio call from the third officer, directing her to divert to the hospital, as (the woman) probably has a shoulder injury.”

The report said the woman did not complain about her arm at any point, “and it was the subject officer who had raised the issue.”

The female officer told the IIO that the subject officer “told her he thought he had heard (the woman’s) arm pop while she was struggling against the officers, and that he seemed upset to think that he had harmed a small female.”

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“At the hospital, a doctor who examined (the woman) stated that there was no injury to her arm, but the subject officer requested that the doctor re-examine it. Upon doing so, the physician realized that the arm was broken, and (the woman) was admitted for treatment.”

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In breaking down its decision, the IIO said “not only is there no evidence that the subject officer used excessive force, or that he acted in any way angrily or aggressively towards (the woman), the evidence shows a significant level of concern for her on his part.

“Aware that she might have suffered an injury, as noted above, it was his intervention at the hospital that ensured (the woman) received the medical care she needed.”

The IIO’s report is available online.

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