No charges for three West Shore RCMP officers after woman’s jaw broken while in custody

No charges for three West Shore RCMP officers after woman’s jaw broken while in custody

After IIO investigation, B.C. Prosecution Service determined case did not meet its charge standard

Three members of the West Shore RCMP will not be facing charges for their involvement in an incident that resulted in injuries to a suspect in their custody.

The B.C. Prosecution Service announced Friday morning that no charges have been approved against the officers.

The incident took place on March 16, 2014 at approximately 1:15 a.m. An intoxicated suspect was arrested and transported to the local detachment. After arriving, according to the B.C. Prosecution Service, “the suspect became aggressive, resistant to direction and assaultive, attempting to strike one of the officers.”

While officers were restraining the suspect, she was taken to the ground and struck her chin causing a cut and broken jaw.

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) investigated the actions of the three officers involved and submitted a report to Crown Counsel for review.

The IIO does not make recommendations on whether charges should be approved and the watchdog organization’s referral standard is much lower than that required for charges to be approved.

After reviewing the report, the B.C. Prosecution Service concluded the available evidence does not meet its charge assessment standard and “would not be able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officers committed a criminal offence or used excessive force in the administration or enforcement of the law.”

According to the the B.C. Prosecution Service’s clear statement – a detailed explanation of why charges were not approved after a report is forwarded by the IIO – the woman was brought into police custody after failing a roadside breath test. She was arrested for public intoxication after being issued a roadside suspension and refusing a taxi ride home, instead choosing to sit on the side of Goldstream Avenue in Langford and cry.

While being processed at the West Shore RCMP detachment, she became aggressive and had to be physically restrained. After being handcuffed, the woman stood up, verbally threatened and kicked out at the officers. One of the three officers involved in this investigation took hold of her kicking leg and she was taken to the ground again, this time breaking her jaw.

She was then transported to Victoria General Hospital but was denied treatment at the hospital for being rude and non-compliant. She was returned to the detachment and was kept in a cell for approximately six hours before being released. At that time she returned to the hospital for treatment. But it wasn’t until a week later, after seeing another doctor who ordered an X-ray, that it was discovered that her jaw was broken.

The charge of assault causing bodily harm was considered against the officers. While the Criminal Code allows officers to use force while in the line of duty and while acting on reasonable grounds, it also holds them criminally responsible for any use of excessive force.

The incident was witnessed by two officers not involved and was recorded on the detachment’s cellblock cameras, although the audio does not record all of the dialogue between the woman and the three officers.

An expert reviewed the footage as well as statements provided and determined the officers’ force was not excessive.


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editor@goldstreamgazette.com

West Shore RCMP