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No charges for RCMP officer: IIO report after Bella Coola woman injured during arrest

A woman sustained a broken arm while being apprehended by RCMP on July 24, 2022
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The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) released a report in February clearing an RCMP officer after a Bella Coola woman sustained an injury while being arrested in July 2022. (File Photo)

An investigation by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) into an injury sustained by a Bella Coola woman while being arrested is not faulting the RCMP officer involved.

The investigation, released on February 9, 2023, was triggered after a woman sustained a broken arm while being apprehended by RCMP on July 24, 2022.

The report provides details of the incident based on interviews with three civilian witnesses, the woman who sustained the injury, and one witness RCMP officer as well as medical evidence, recordings of the 9-1-1 call and police radio transmissions, as well as other evidence.

The report describes how RCMP responded to a 9-1-1 call in the early morning of July 24 at a residence in Bella Coola which reported a woman pinning another woman down holding a knife to her throat or chest. The report said the people at the residence had all allegedly been consuming alcohol.

RCMP said they arrived at the residence to find a woman holding a knife to her own throat.

The witness officer reported arriving to find the subject officer with what appeared to be a firearm drawn asking the woman to put the knife down.

The witness officer then reportedly drew a conductive energy weapon (CEW) and spoke calmly to the woman in an attempt to de-escalate the situation, which was not successful. After discharging the CEW four times, in bursts, the woman lowered the knife.

The other officer then moved in, took the knife from her and removed her from where she was sitting “by her left arm and took her to the floor in an ‘arm bar [maneuver]’” and told her she was under arrest.

Both officers reported hearing a ‘pop’ and the witness officer said she believed a joint had been dislocated and the woman was complaining of arm pain.

She also had some cuts to her neck, described as superficial in the report.

At the hospital, staff said they were unable to assess the woman under the Mental Health Act due to her level of intoxication.

She was found to have a “minimally displaced spiral fracture” of her upper left arm.

The IIO report states the injured woman was not able to provide a detailed account of the incident which resulted in her injury as she could not recall the interaction with police due to her level of intoxication.

One eyewitness account by the woman’s relative differs in the details of the incident, though investigators concluded other evidence contradicted this.

The report provides the basis for their conclusion, going through the steps of the incident in question, citing the officers’ right to attend the scene given the nature of the 9-1-1 call of a reported assault with a weapon.

The report also acknowledges their right to enter and arrest the woman without a warrant given the circumstances.

“The evidence is clear that police found (the woman) apparently threatening suicide and with the ability to carry out that threat at any moment. In those circumstances, the officers’ entry into the residence was appropriate and lawful.”

It also said the witness officer’s use of the CEW was warranted under the circumstances, as was the other officer’s actions in moving in to disarm and control the woman.

“Taking her down with one arm behind her back would be a standard and acceptable technique for doing this,” states the report.

“While it is unfortunate that (the woman) was injured in the process, the injury was a relatively minor one, and is not suggestive of the use of extreme force,” it said.

The report concludes it did not find grounds to believe an officer committed an offence and will not be recommending charges to Crown Counsel.

The full report is available to the public on the Independent Investigations Office of BC’s website.

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Ruth Lloyd

About the Author: Ruth Lloyd

After moving back to Williams Lake, where I was born and graduated from school, I joined the amazing team at the Williams Lake Tribune in 2021.
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