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Complaint of HRP Deletion of Video leads to No Charges
The province's independent Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) today released its report about an allegation that a Halifax Regional Police (HRP) officer wrongly deleted a civilian’s video of an arrest of a 17-year-old male. In late November, 2015, SiRT received the complaint from the male, who was arrested on June 30, 2015 while he was a resident of the Reigh Allen Centre in Dartmouth.
As the actions of the officer could constitute obstruction of justice, SiRT opened an investigation. It showed that on June 30 staff at the Centre called police because the male was in breach of court conditions and had caused damage at the Centre. When police arrived and attempted to arrest this male he resisted and there was a struggle. A second male youth was initially in the room where the arrest occurred, but left and then video recorded the encounter through a window.
This second male protested the actions of the police. As a result he met with one officer in the presence of a staff person. The officer told this male if there was relevant video on his phone it would be seized as evidence. The male showed the officer the video. The officer told SiRT that the video did not show the struggle to arrest the first male, but only began after the male was subdued. As a result he felt the video was not relevant. It appeared the second male was concerned that his phone would be seized if the video remained on his phone. The facts show the male either agreed to delete the video on his own with assistance from the officer, or the officer deleted the video. The officer now acknowledges he should have seized the phone with the video.
The facts support the officer’s statement to SiRT that the video only began after the first male was subdued. That also supports the officer’s position he thought the video was of no value. Thus, while the officer should have seized the phone as all evidence has some value, the facts available in this case are not sufficient to say the video was deleted for the specific purpose of obstructing justice.
Without the specific intent to obstruct justice, there are no grounds to support a charge of obstruction of justice. Thus no charges will be laid against the police officer.
A complete copy of the report is available at http://sirt.novascotia.ca.
SIRT is responsible for investigating all serious incidents involving police in Nova Scotia. Investigations are under the direction and control of independent civilian director Ron MacDonald, who is solely responsible for decisions respecting the laying of any charge.
Ron MacDonald, QC