Calgary officers will not face charges after suspects injured in custody in separate incidents: ASIRT
An investigation into the actions of officers at the Calgary Police Service's arrest processing unit during two separate incidents that left suspects severely injured has determined the officers will not be charged.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) released its findings Monday in connection with a July 2019 matter that left a man suffering a brain bleed and a December 2018 incident where a suspect suffered a significant cut to his face and collapsed.
JULY 2019: SUICIDAL INMATE PUNCHED, ELBOWED AND KNEED
According to ASIRT, officers responded to a social services office on July 3, 2019 after a 44-year-old man had said he planned to kill himself and others after he was denied financial support for medication.
The responding CPS members decided to arrest the man on an outstanding warrant instead of under the Mental Health Act and he was transported to the arrest processing unit where he was placed in a cell with three other people.
The man allegedly attempted to hang himself with his shirt and was moved to an isolation cell void of anything that could potentially be used to self-harm.
The man was given a safety gown — a garment designed to be difficult to injure oneself — but he managed to tear strips of fabric from it and attempted to strangle himself. He also repeatedly banged his head against the cell door.
Officers approached the cell and demanded that the suspect remove the gown. When he didn't comply, four officers entered the cell — one with a riot-style shield — and were met by punches and kicks from the suspect in the small space.
ASIRT says the man was taken to the ground by the officers where he was punched approximately 11 times, struck in the head by elbows at least twice, kneed in the torso four times and had his palm bent in a 'pain compliance technique.'
Blood pooled around the injured man's head as he was placed in leg shackles and handcuffs.
The man was injected with a sedative by an on-site paramedic and transported to hospital.
He was returned to custody a short time later before hospital officials determined he had suffered a subdural hematoma — a brain bleed —and was rushed to hospital again.
According to ASIRT, the officers were "justified in using as much force as was reasonably necessary" to protect themselves and bring the suspect under control, and that "their level of control" of the situation was "reasonably high, although some force was still required to bring him fully under control."
ASIRT says the "13 strikes to the head area of a person on the ground would seem like to interfere seriously with comfort or health" and "seemed disproportionate and not reasonably necessary," but there is evidence the suspect's significant head injury could have also been the result of him banging his head against the door.
According to ASIRT, the officer who entered the cell and struck the suspect in the head had been the subject of a previous ASIRT investigation into use of force.
ASIRT says the officers will not be charged with any criminal offences.
DECEMBER 2018: SUSPECT COLLAPSES AFTER ENCOUNTER WITH OFFICER OUT OF VIEW OF CAMERAS
In the early morning hours of Dec. 7, 2018, a 53-year-old man wanted on outstanding warrants was apprehended and taken to the arrest processing unit.
The man was placed in a cell with two other detainees. When he received his breakfast several hours later, he allegedly threw his water bottle at the commissionaire.
A decision was made to place the suspect in an individual cell. The man took one final bite of his sandwich before he was escorted down the cellblock by three officers with one officer physically controlling him. A struggle occurred between the suspect, who was not handcuffed, and the officer who was holding him who was also much larger than him.
The officer pushed the suspect against a wall, in a location that was partially out of view of a surveillance camera, and allegedly held him against the wall for roughly 20 seconds.
The officer, whose hands could not be seen in video footage, appears to be back away from the suspect who then collapsed unconscious to the floor landing partially on his face.
An EMS crews transported the suspect to hospital for treatment of a cut above his left eye that required 17 stitches. The suspect was returned to custody but, after experiencing dizziness, fever and headaches, he returned to hospital where it was determined he had a rib fracture of unknown origin and an infection in the suture wound. His second stay in hospital lasted nine days.
According to ASIRT, the suspect said he had been "choked out" by the officer but this claim has not been fully corroborated —although one of the other officers and the scenario did give it some credence — and is one of three possibilities, with the others being the man had choked on the final bite of his sandwich or an unknown, unidentified medical cause.
ASIRT officials admit it is highly suspicious that the officer restrained the suspect at a selection location along the wall without camera coverage.
ASIRT's investigation determined the evidence does not meet the standard for prosecution and the officer will not be charged.