Ronald MacDonald, chief civilian director of the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Police watchdog clears Surrey Mounties in two dramatic 2019 arrests

Cops didn’t commit a crime, IIO concludes. In one case a delusional man was arrested, in other a man’s leg was broken prior to a vigil

Surrey Mounties didn’t commit a crime in either of two Surrey cases – one involving the arrest of a delusional man, the other involving a man’s leg being broken before a vigil began for New Zealand mosque shootings victims – the Independent Investigations Office of BC concluded this week.

The most recent incident occurred Aug. 18, 2019 when police apprehended a man under the Mental Health Act and took him to hospital.

Ronald MacDonald, chief civilian director of the IIO, said the man – whose name has not been released – was in “physical and psychological distress” after drinking rum and smoking a drug called “shatter.”

A witness told IIO investigators this man was hiding under furniture.

When the Mounties arrived, the man said people were coming for him with lasers, and he began thrashing and kicking a police car door after police handcuffed him and put him in the back. They removed him, took him to the ground and tied his legs with a strap.

READ ALSO FOCUS ON Surrey’s IIO: Keeping the cops accountable

When paramedics arrived, he was put on a stretcher and taken to hospital.

The IIO obtained medical reports indicating the man had earlier been given a Prozac pill and had taken “polypharmacy” drugs. MacDonald said a high level of amphetamines were found in his blood.

“The evidence collected does not provide grounds to consider any charges against any officer,” MacDonald concluded. He added there was no suggestion from witnesses or medical personnel that “the actions of the involved officers were anything but professional and caring.”

In the second case, which occurred on March 17, 2019, a man was seriously injured when Mounties arrested him for obstruction of a peace officer after he refused to stop to be ticketed for jaywalking.

MacDonald said the IIO heard from the man – whose name was not released – two civilian witnesses, three police officer witnesses, and also considered medical evidence, RCMP policies, video and photos from the man’s cell phone, CCTV video surveillance footage and audio from police radio dispatch transmissions.

The man was walking across Civic Square in Surrey’s city centre a short time before a vigil began in commemoration of victims shot at a mosque in New Zealand. People had not yet gathered, and, wondering why police were there, the man held up his mobile phone as he passed by police, taking short videos and photos of the police and their parked vehicles.

Two Mounties noticed this and decided to check him out. As they approached him, MacDonald noted, they watched him leave the square and jaywalk across City Parkway, “causing an approaching vehicle to brake to avoid him.”

The police called out for him to stop. He replied “No,”and kept walking. The caught up with him and an officer took hold of his arm. When he pulled away, the cop did a “leg sweep” to take him to the ground and another officer handcuffed him. While this was going on, the man complained of pain in his leg, and was yelling and swearing at the police, MacDonald said.

One of the officers put the man in an “arm bar” after seeing him reach into his pocket, the IIO heard. The man was taken to hospital, where it was discovered his leg had been fractured and needed surgery.

The RCMP claimed the man had been “acting suspiciously, taking photos of the police vehicles and the crowd, yelling racial slurs, disturbing the peace,” and that he’d been arrested for mischief and obstruction. The RCMP also issued a press release, saying this all happened during the vigil, and not before.

“The IIO investigation, though, has found no evidence whatsoever,” MacDonald said, that the man was present “either at the vigil itself or at a time when attendees were gathering for the vigil, that he uttered any racial slur to anyone, or that he caused a disturbance in any manner until the time of his arrest.”

As for the use of force, MacDonald found that although it was unfortunate the man was injured when he was taken to the ground, “it cannot be said that it was unjustified or excessive.”

RCMPSurrey

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