A decision released Thursday by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has concluded that a Mountie did not comit an offence during the Feb. 11, 2022 arrest of a drunk driver during a Cobble Hill traffic stop.
The IIO investigates whenever injuries occur in connection with the actions of police.
“The issue to be considered in this case is whether the officer may have used excessive force or otherwise acted improperly in his interactions with the [driver]”, noted the four-page document containing the decision.
On behalf of the IIO, chief civilian director Ronald. J. MacDonald wrote that the officer’s use of force “must be reasonable, necessary and proportionate to the situation the officer found himself in,” and “although perhaps not perfect,” that his actions were appropritate.
On the night in question, the RCMP officer had pulled the driver’s vehicle over at 10:53 p.m. after witnessing her car twice cross the centre line on the road.
The driver failed a breath test for impairment and during her arrest she was injured.
The IIO decision stated that the driver said she “got scared” when the officer grabbed her arm to arrest her and pulled away, saying she didn’t understand why she was being arrested. The driver later said she had a “trauma response” to the arrest after being panicked and triggered by it.
She said she continued to pull away and that the handcuffs hurt her.
The officer called for backup.
“[A backup officer] arrived and described seeing [the driver] with her hands in handcuffs towards the front of her body. [The backup officer] said that she was wailing and screaming and was on her knees sitting upwards. [The backup officer] suggested that the officers should bring [the driver] to the ground, and he said that they placed [the driver] on her stomach gently and in a controlled manner. He described [the driver] was kicking, flailing and rolling around as the officers were trying to control her.”
The officers “‘almost had to half drag her to the car’ because she was dead weight and not complying…she then half-entered the vehicle, and pushed off the seat and tried to exit the vehicle.”
From there the woman said she struck her head repeatedly on the plexi-glass divider between the front and back seats.
At 11:41 p.m., the driver was transported to RCMP and declined medical attention. She was taken to hospital anyway due to her mental state.
“Two days later, [the driver] returned to the RCMP detachment to advise that she had suffered a torn meniscus in her knee from the incident. Her medical records show that she bruised the end of her femur at the knee, which resulted in a locked left knee that could not fully extend,” said the report.
Allegations by the driver and a passenger in the vehicle that the police officer had kneeled on the driver’s neck and punched her in the head 10 times were dismissed as there was contradictory evidence from the backup officer and the driver, “by her own account, was intoxicated and this brings the reliability of her evidence into question somewhat.”
While the medical records showed an open head wound, MacDonald found that the wound was consistent with the admitted actions of the woman inside the patrol car.
“Based on the situation, it cannot be said that [the officer’s] actions were unreasonable generally,” MacDonald wrote in his decision. “I do not consider that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an officer may have committed an offence under any enactment and therefore the matter will not be referred to Crown counsel for consideration of charges.”