RCMP watchdog investigating October arrest of teen with autism in St. Albert

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Alberta police watchdog investigating arrest of 16-year-old boy with autism
Alberta's police watchdog is investigating the arrest of a teen in October. It comes just days after RCMP said the matter would be reviewed internally. As Nicole Stillger reports, the family is looking at potential legal action – Oct 9, 2022

The civilian complaints commission for the RCMP has begun an investigation into the arrest of a 16-year-old boy with autism in Alberta earlier this year.

The teen was arrested at a playground in St. Albert, a city directly northwest of Edmonton, on Oct. 2, after police received 911 calls about an individual who was displaying erratic behaviour or was possibly impaired.

A number of officers arrested the boy, who is non-verbal and who attempted to harm himself while in custody and was taken to a hospital in Edmonton.

His family filed a missing person report that evening, and police were then able to identify the boy and connect him with his family.

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Michelaine Lahaie, who chairs the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, has initiated a complaint regarding his arrest and detention.

She says the investigation will examine officers’ response to the call and if proper supervision was provided in light of his condition as required under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Lahaie says it will also examine if reasonable steps were taken to prevent the boy from self-harming and if training is provided to members on recognizing and interacting with neurodiverse people.

Also investigating is the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), which is tasked provincially with looking into serious or sensitive allegations of police misconduct.

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