No Prince George RCMP officers or prison guards will face criminal charges, despite a man breaking his hip while getting arrested by them and spending the night on the floor of a jail cell without medical attention.
The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIO) released its findings Wednesday (June 15), which concluded that the officers acted within their duties and while the prison guard’s actions may warrant a criminal charge, as a civilian they fall outside the IIO’s purview.
According to the IIO’s report, the man was arrested on the evening of May 11, 2019 after a police officer noticed him biking erratically along a Prince George street. The officer told the man she was placing him under arrest for public intoxication – which she assumed to be the case based on his behavior – but he biked away from her before she could take him in.
The officer followed the man to one of his relative’s homes, where two other officers met her and helped to arrest the man. The officers told the IIO the man became “uncooperative” when they tried to search him for dangerous objects and that they took him to the ground, where he broke his hip.
Video from a witness showed the man screaming in pain and unable to bear weight on his legs as the officers lifted him into the police vehicle. The officer who initially confronted the man told the IIO she remembered him complaining of pain, but that she didn’t believe he was seriously injured.
The man was transported to a prison cell, where he spent the night laying in the fetal position and “screaming in pain,” according to his cell mate. The cell mate also told the IIO he tried to tell the guard that the man needed help, but he was told if he didn’t keep the noise down his own time in the cell would be extended.
The injured man told the IIO he repeatedly asked the prison guard for help and she replied by telling him it wasn’t her problem. She told the IIO that the man had complained of a broken leg, and that she likely reported it to an officer, but that she couldn’t name who.
“He made a lot of noise that night, but then, he always does – he’s a very obnoxious drunk person… I like to say that he’s ugly inside as well as out,” she told investigators, according to the report. She said the man should have proven his injury to her. A colleague told investigators he felt the guard believes all prisoners are “scumbags” and that she is primarily motivated by “revenge.”
The injured man didn’t receive medical attention for his hip until the next morning when RCMP officers went to release him from the cell. At the hospital, the man’s doctor told police officers he would have suffered extreme pain throughout the night.
Still, the IIO determined there was no proof officers used excessive force or acted outside their lawful duties. It said criminal charges may be warranted against the prison guard, but that since she is a civilian she falls outside their jurisdiction.
An investigation into her actions by the RCMP resulted in no charges.