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Investigation Concludes No Charges to be Laid Against HRP Officers
An investigation by the province's Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) has concluded there are no grounds for charges against two Halifax Regional Police (HRP) officers who responded to a complaint of a disturbance at a Fairview, Halifax apartment building on May 10, 2013.
The superintendent of the building called police to report that a female occupant was “freaking out,” had smashed a window in her apartment, and was outside banging on another tenant’s window with a shovel. She had been abusing drugs and alcohol over the previous 24 hours. The two officers arrived at the woman’s apartment at 1:45 p.m. After speaking with her for approximately 20 minutes, the woman said she wanted to kill herself. The officers decided to take her into custody under the Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act. The woman resisted, and while seated on her couch flipped herself onto her stomach. When the officers were able to handcuff her and take her off the couch, they noticed a knife caught in the front of her clothing, and threw it out of reach. Testing later confirmed the blade of that knife was covered with the woman’s blood. When the officers got the woman to the front of the building, they noticed blood coming from her abdomen, and determined she had suffered a stab wound. They immediately called for Emergency Health Services assistance.
The woman was taken to hospital, where later that evening she died from internal bleeding. Autopsy results showed she had cut two major blood vessels and her liver, causing the fatal loss of blood.
The woman had a history of mental illness, self-mutilation, and previous suicide attempts, including three occasions when she cut or stabbed herself in the presence of police.
In this case, the circumstances justified the police decision to take the woman into custody given her expressed desire to kill herself. The facts demonstrate that she stabbed herself with the knife while on the couch as the police were attempting to take her into custody. There are no grounds to consider charges against either 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 has the sole authority to determine if charges should be laid after the conclusion of an investigation.
Ron MacDonald, QC
Serious Incident Response Team