The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has found Nanaimo officers used reasonable force when apprehending Shanna-Marie Blanchard, who suffered facial injuries while struggling with police. (File photo)

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has found Nanaimo officers used reasonable force when apprehending Shanna-Marie Blanchard, who suffered facial injuries while struggling with police. (File photo)

Investigation finds Nanaimo RCMP officers used reasonable force detaining woman in mental health crisis

Woman sustained injuries to her face while being apprehended last May

Police in Nanaimo have been cleared of wrongdoing in an incident in which a woman in a mental health crisis suffered injuries to her face while being detained.

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. was called to investigate following the incident May 26, 2020, when a woman suffered injuries to her nose and mouth. Though the IIO found that the RCMP used a reasonable level of force, the complainant Shanna-Marie Blanchard questions the investigation’s process and findings and says she will continue to move forward with a lawsuit against police.

According to an IIO summary of its investigation, RCMP officers responded to a residence where a woman in crisis had locked herself in a bathroom with scissors.

The woman eventually emerged from the bathroom and was informed that she was to be apprehended under the Mental Health Act at which point she “became resistant and a struggle ensued,” the report noted. “In the course of that struggle and a fall that occurred as officers were attempting to walk [her] downstairs … [she] suffered injuries to her face.”

The IIO report details the actions of the officers – which included a strike to the woman’s face delivered by one of the members and the use of a spit hood to prevent her from spitting blood on officers – and the woman’s injuries. It also cites evidence from verbal and written statements by the complainant, three officers, civilian witnesses, a paramedic, police dispatch records, recording of the 911 call and police radio communication, security camera video recording, medical, dental and counselling evidence and the woman’s statement of claim in a lawsuit filed against police.

RELATED: Independent Investigations Office looking into complaint against Nanaimo RCMP

Ronald MacDonald, IIO B.C. chief civilian director, wrote in the investigation’s findings that the officers involved “made observations and received information consistent with [the woman] being a person apparently suffering from a mental disorder and in danger of harming herself” and were justified in their decision to apprehend her and take her to hospital for evaluation.

Regarding the blow to the woman’s face, MacDonald wrote that she reacted to being taken to hospital in a “threatening and resistant manner,” that the officers used necessary and reasonable force to restrain her and in response to her “deliberate strikes against them” the officer used “necessary, reasonable force to stop them.”

“It is unfortunate that [the woman] suffered injuries in the course of the incident, but the evidence does not lead me to conclude that those injuries were the result of an unnecessary or excessive use of force.”

MacDonald noted that the use of a spit hood appeared to be contrary to police policy, but officers were dealing with someone emotionally and physically aggressive who had spat blood on one officer and the hood did not impact her ability to breath and communicate.

He concluded that he didn’t consider there to be reasonable grounds to believe “that an officer may have committed an offence under any enactment.” The IIO will not refer the case to Crown counsel for consideration of charges.

Blanchard provided the News Bulletin with a statement from her legal counsel Ira Tee, which expresses disagreement with the IIO’s conclusion. Blanchard “questions the accuracy of the police officers’ evidence and the fairness of the IIO’s investigation” considering that RCMP members were not compelled to provide statements.

“It is incomprehensible that five officers could not safely control Ms. Blanchard and caused her substantial injuries, including the loss of teeth, a broken nose, broken facial bones, bruising and psychological trauma,” the statement notes, adding that Blanchard has spent almost $10,000 in dental fees.

“Even though the IIO finds no wrongdoing on behalf of the police officers, Ms. Blanchard will continue to pursue her legal rights and remedies in the civil courts,” the statement concludes.



photos@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

RCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

The platanthera dilatata is the fragrant white bog orchid whose perfume on a hot August day is one of the unforgettable delights of a summer hike in Strathcona Park. Photo supplied
Strathcona Wilderness Institute AGM upcoming

The Strathcona Wilderness Institute (SWI) will hold its 2021 annual general meeting… Continue reading

The candidates in the recent municipal by-election say while they’re disappointed with the voter turnout, most are intending to take another run at a seat in 2022. Black Press File Photo
Candidates lament low voter turnout in Campbell River municipal by-election

Many say they will still be putting their names forward again in the future, however

BC Rent Bank helps people stay out of homelessness. Black Press stock photo
BC Rent Bank pitched for Campbell River

Program provides loans to keep people housed

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
B.C. father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, has been forced to re-skill during the COVID-19 pandemic after more than six years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs in B.C.’s tech industry. (Submitted photo/Shaimma Yehia)
Why skilled immigrant women continue to be shut out of B.C.’s booming tech sector

Experienced software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, hasn’t found a job since she migrated to Canada 6 years ago

Ron Sivorot, business director at Kennametal’s Langford site, the Greater Victoria facility that made a component being used on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (Jake Romphf, Black Press Media)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover digging in with B.C.-made part

Kennametal’s Langford plant’s tooth blank is helping the rover’s drill collect rock cores

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

Meghan said she struggled with concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour

Most Read