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Vancouver Island police cleared after beanbag breaks woman’s arm in arrest

‘Force was a applied incrementally,’ during 2022 Beacon Hill Park incident: IIO report
The Independent Investigations Office of BC says ‘force was applied incrementally’ in 2022 incident where a woman’s arm was broken by a beanbag round. (Black Press Media file photo)

Officers with VicPD and the regional Emergency Response Team (ERT) were cleared of using unreasonable force after a woman’s arm was broken by a beanbag round during an hours-long incident in 2022.

Officers were “clearly trying to apprehend her without harm,” according to a March 18 report by the Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia (IIO), which investigates police actions where someone is hurt or killed.

Residents called police on Sept. 9, 2022 around 7:30 p.m. about a person at the edge of Beacon Hill Park who was yelling and appeared to be under the influence of drugs.

Police said when the first officer arrived the woman was behaving erratically and had knives. Based on prior information about the individual and an inability to communicate or gain her cooperation, the officer determined she should be arrested for causing a disturbance.

Four officers, including two trained in crisis negation, failed to get a response other than threats of self-harm.

Officers handed control to the emergency response team shortly after 10 p.m.

READ ALSO: Public hearing date set for Victoria officer in relation to woman’s death

The ERT determined the incident could only be resolved by “tactically” apprehending her under the Mental Health Act. That included escalation from negotiation to several rounds of what police call noise flash diversionary devices designed to stun or disorient, pepper spray, taser and bean bag rounds.

After being hit by rounds, the woman hunched over and started to cut her forearms, the report details. That triggered a self-harm response that included ARWEN rounds and pepper ball rounds in her buttocks area.

It prompted the woman to drop the knife, allowing officers to get close and apprehend her.

When an officer took her arm, they noted “bone-on-bone grinding” and subsequently they did not use the handcuffs.

The woman was taken to hospital with knife wounds and a fracture in her upper right arm “consistent with an impact from a beanbag which had penetrated the skin.”

The IIO report says taking steps to apprehend the individual was appropriate.

“When it became apparent that some level of force would be necessary … that force was applied incrementally,” the report said. “It cannot be said, in the circumstances, that the force used by any officer was outside the reasonable range.”

The matter will not be referred to Crown counsel for consideration of charges.

READ ALSO: IIO clears Saanich police after man with Asperger’s injured, but called actions ‘close to the line’