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Halifax Officer Used Lawful Force During Struggle With Woman at Hospital
The province's independent Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) has released its report regarding a struggle between and HRP officer and a 51-year-old woman taken to the psychiatric assessment unit at the QE II on August 7, 2014.
At approximately 7:30 p.m., Halifax Regional Police (HRP) received a call from Walmart staff in Dartmouth Crossing about a woman yelling and screaming without apparent cause in their parking lot. She was also standing in the lot’s driving lanes. A male HRP officer responded to the call, and located the woman outside of a nearby business. The woman was taken into custody under the Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act, and brought to the QE II hospital without incident. The HRP officer remained with the woman while she was awaiting medical attention. Video from the hospital captured all relevant interactions between the officer and the woman. At one point she became quite loud and upset. The officer attempted to re-apply handcuffs in an attempt to control her behaviour. She resisted his efforts, and attempted to kick him. As the officer tried to control her left arm to apply a handcuff she tried to pull it the other way. At that time her upper arm was accidentally broken.
Based on the woman’s actions in the parking lot, it was reasonable for the officer to conclude she was in need of medical attention and that she may be a danger to herself. He was therefore justified to take her into custody under the Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act. He was also justified to attempt to control her behaviour while waiting for medical attention, and to use reasonable force to do so. While he did apply force, the video confirms it was reasonable in the circumstances.
In these circumstances there are no grounds to consider any charges against the officer.
The full 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