A police watchdog will not be recommending charges against a Victoria officer after a suspect’s ankle was broken during an arrest.
According to the report released by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIO) on Aug. 7, two members of the Victoria Police Department were called on Feb. 16 to investigate an alleged assault. When officers arrived, the suspects had already fled on foot but a witness who had called 911 told police they were on the wharf along the Inner Harbour.
The two officers located a group of teenagers with two boys who matched the provided description. When officers approached the group, the teens started to flee. The officer who was the subject of this investigation identified himself as police and stated the two male teens were under arrest for assault. As he did this, one of the teens tried to flee.
The teen told investigators he was “walking away” when police told him to freeze.
The other officer involved in the arrest was dealing with another suspect and looked over to see the subject officer struggling with this teen. The other officer told investigators the suspect was punching and kicking the arresting officer, who gained control of the suspect by picking him up and slamming him into the wooden pier. The two officers then worked together to place handcuffs on him. Another civilian witness also stepped in and helped the officers control the suspect’s head.
Attempts by IIO investigators to locate this civilian were unsuccessful.
During the arrest, the teen described himself as “wiggling around” and noted an officer could have either tripped or stepped on his ankle during the struggle or stomped on it deliberately. He described himself as “resisting a little bit.”
The first witness who directed police to the suspects did not see the initial encounter but saw one officer with a knee on the teen’s back and noticed an abrasion on the teen’s face.
Once the teen was under control, officers helped him stand and the teen immediately complained of pain in his left foot, noting he couldn’t put any weight on it. The other officer helped the teen into the police van so he could be transported to detachment. During this interaction, the teen was kicking him in the shins. A third officer also noted the teen kicked him in the torso and the teen was kicking inside the van during transport.
At the detachment, the suspect was transported to cells where CCTV footage shows him taking his boot off his injured foot. Emergency Health Services was called and the teen was transported to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a broken ankle.
As the teen was injured during the course of the arrest, the IIO was called to investigate whether the subject officer may have used excessive force or otherwise acted improperly. While it is not clear what exactly caused the broken ankle, investigators determined the officers were acting lawfully and did not use excessive force.
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