The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) has found no evidence to support referring an incident involving Sunshine Coast RCMP to Crown counsel.
The IIO investigation involved an incident in Gibsons on March 3 that started when RCMP responded to a call about an intoxicated man.
According to the IIO report released Dec. 12, the police officer involved (SO – Subject Officer) was trying to find a place for the man (AP – Affected Person) to spend the night.
“While in the rear of the of SO’s police vehicle, AP deliberately caused significant damage to the vehicle,” the report says. “SO removed AP from the vehicle to arrest him for mischief and there was a struggle, during which AP suffered an injury to his leg.”
The IIO said its investigation confirmed that the injured man didn’t complain to police about being hurt until the following day, and was taken to hospital where doctors found he had a spiral fracture of his right femur.
In the course of its examination, the IIO spoke to the injured man, three civilian witnesses and three police officers and examined video recordings from the arresting officer’s police cruiser and the RCMP detachment as well as audio of the various dispatch calls during the incident.
The IIO report details a series of events that started around 2:30 a.m. when police were called to a complaint about a man repeatedly ringing someone’s doorbell. The suspect had been randomly knocking on doors in the area screaming the name of a woman he’d just broken up with.
When the RCMP officer found him, he allowed the man to get into the back seat with his possessions and put his backpack in the cargo area. The man was not handcuffed and they drove to the woman’s house, where AP had told SO he would be allowed to spend the night.
That wasn’t the case and when SO went back to the cruiser to take AP to the detachment to sober up, he found the interior had been badly damaged.
It was at that point there was “some sort of physical struggle,” which was not clearly captured on the police vehicle’s video camera. It ended with AP in handcuffs and back in the cruiser. He was arrested on mischief charges related to the damage to the vehicle and taken to the cells.
“AP’s description of the incident is strongly suggestive of an action by SO that was unjustified and excessive,” the report says. “On the other hand, AP’s behavior at the time was unruly if not belligerent, and his admitted level of intoxication calls into question, to some extent, the reliability of his recall.”
IIO investigators concluded that, on the whole, the evidence, especially the video evidence, “presents a picture of SO’s behaviour throughout as calm and professional, and of AP’s as irrational and aggressive.”
The finding was that “it cannot be said that the evidence would support a reasonable belief that any officer may have committed and offence, and therefore the matter will not be referred to Crown counsel.”
The incident was the second IIO investigation involving Sunshine Coast RCMP this year.
The IIO’s investigation of an April 9 incident where a suspect in a bank fraud case died after being chased when he tried to outrun officers was quickly closed, with the IIO concluding that the man died of natural causes that were not the result of “action or inaction” on the part of the officers involved.