The province's independent Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) today released its report regarding an investigation into the arrest of a man in downtown Halifax.
On March 23, 2015, at approximately 2:30 p.m., Halifax Regional Police (HRP) received a complaint from a restaurant on Granville St. about a male who entered the business and stole cash and other items from a woman’s purse. Police responded, and found the man walking on George St. When one officer attempted to arrest the man he broke free from the officer, ran up George St. and turned north on Barrington St. The man was now running on the street, causing a car to take evasive action. A second officer was able to block the man with his car. The man then ran south toward the Grand Parade. He was cut off there by the first officer. The officer told him to stop or he would use his Conducted Energy Weapon, but the man nevertheless turned and attempted to escape east toward George St. Two other cars had to stop suddenly as a result. The man was faster than the first officer, and he determined that further pursuit could be dangerous to the man, the officer, and others. He therefore used his CEW on the man, who immediately fell to the ground, apparently striking his face. He suffered two non-displaced skull fractures, and brain injury. He was hospitalized for a week.
Four civilians witnessed parts of the chase. Their evidence was corroborative of the evidence from the two officers.
At law the first officer was entitled to use as much force as necessary to arrest the man, as long as he did not intend to cause or take an action that was likely to cause grievous bodily harm or death. Usually the use of the CEW results in no injury, and in these circumstances was as likely to cause injury as tackling the man from behind. In the circumstances the actions of the officer were not intended or likely to cause significant injury. The injury suffered was accidental and unintended. As a result the officer was justified in his efforts to arrest the offender, and there are no grounds for 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.