Langley Mounties were acting properly during an arrest that broke the leg of a man who tried to steal a commemorative jersey from an Aldergrove rec centre, an investigation has ruled.
In a June 15 report, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) has recommended that no officer should be charged in relation to the Nov. 28, 2022 arrest.
The incident began that morning when a man entered the rec centre and removed a hockey jersey from a commemorative case and threw it in the trash.
Staff at the rec centre put the jersey back where it belonged and called the non-emergency line to report the incident to the Langley RCMP.
Later that day, the man came back, removed the jersey again, and this time tried to leave with it. According to a civilian witness, police were called. As the man was becoming aggressive, no on tried to stop him as he walked out.
He was met in the parking lot near the Community Policing Office by two RCMP officers, a man and a woman.
The man claimed, falsely, that he was “a barrister” and “could not be touched” when speaking with the Mounties. They ordered him to give back the jersey and he refused.
A civilian witness said the man “kind of lunged” toward the male officer, who took him to the ground with an arm bar hold.
According to the female officer and a bystander, the suspect was considerably larger than both officers, and he continued to struggle while on the ground. It took some time to get his arms behind him and put him in handcuffs.
A civilian bystander also helped hold the man’s legs during the struggle.
When the man complained of leg pain, an ambulance was called. Medical examinations determined he had suffered fractures in his tibia and fibula.
“He was advised by multiple orthopedic surgeons to have surgery, but refused,” said the report by Ronald J. MacDonald, the IIO’s chief civilian director.
The suspect spoke to the IIO as well, and gave a different version of events, claiming that no one had told him he was under arrest or given him any commands or warnings – instead, he said that a female officer struck him from behind with a retractable “pole,” knocking him down, and he was then handcuffed.
His version, which is contradicted by both the police on the scene and civilian witnesses, was not credible, MacDonald said.
He found the amount of force used was reasonable, especially given that the man was larger than both of the RCMP officers.
“There is no suggestion that the arm bar technique described amounted to an inappropriate use of force in the circumstances,” MacDonald wrote.
The IIO investigates all incidents in which someone is killed or injured during an interaction with police in British Columbia, and can recommend that charges be laid if the police’s actions are believed to amount to a criminal offence.
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