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HRP Officers’ Actions Justified in Case Where Man Fell From Balcony
The province’s Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) has released its report regarding a February 3, 2014 case where police were attempting to apprehend a man in Halifax who was away from a psychiatric facility without leave.
Halifax Regional Police (HRP) were contacted on that date by staff at the Nova Scotia Hospital and alerted that a 27-year-old male had left the hospital without leave. He was an involuntary patient at the hospital under the provisions of the Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act. That Act gives the police the authority to apprehend any patient who is away from the facility without leave.
Police learned the man was at his apartment on South Park St. at approximately 1 p.m. Two officers initially attended, but he was actively refusing their entry into his apartment. Backup was called, and two other officers attempted to negotiate with the man to let them in, telling him they were concerned with his safety. There was no response or sound coming from the interior of the apartment.
Knowing that an involuntary patient is a person who may be a danger to themselves, the police made the decision to enter the apartment to ensure the safety of the man. Upon entry through a barricaded door, he was found sitting on the outside edge of the balcony. Other officers retreated, and one attempted to convince the man to come back inside. However, the man eventually fell from the balcony. He was rushed to hospital, but died approximately an hour later.
The police have a duty to protect life, and in the circumstances were justified in entering the apartment out of concern for the health and safety of the man.
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.
Ronald MacDonald, QC
Serious Incident Response Team