New Hazelton Case Concluded – No Jurisdiction

Independent Investigations Office
For Immediate Release
February 20, 2014

SURREY – Chief Civilian Director Richard Rosenthal of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) has concluded that the IIO does not have jurisdiction over a case arising out of New Hazelton earlier this year.

On January 1, 2014, at 3:11 a.m., RCMP in New Hazelton responded to a complaint involving an adult female and her partner reportedly engaged in dispute at their residence.  As a result, the female affected person was arrested.

According to the original RCMP notification, the affected person requested to use the bathroom; an officer stood outside the bathroom to provide her some privacy.  The officer reported hearing rattling and upon checking the affected person, observed a medication bottle on the counter.

The RCMP reported the affected person denied ingesting any pills.  En route to the detachment, the affected person appeared to be in distress and admitted taking prescription medication.  The officer took the affected person to the hospital where her condition began to deteriorate.

By 7:00 a.m. the affected person went into cardiac arrest and after resuscitation was transferred to a larger hospital.  The IIO was notified at 11:15 a.m. and was advised her medical status was serious.  Her condition gradually improved and she was eventually discharged from hospital.

The IIO asserted jurisdiction in order to determine if the officers ’actions may have contributed to the affected person’s serious injury.

IIO investigators interviewed a family member who was present during the police response and recalled two officers arriving.  The family member recalled the affected person getting changed in the bedroom and stating she needed to use the bathroom.  The family member and RCMP officers heard rattling from the bathroom and said “Is that pills?”  The family member observed the officer closest to the bathroom grabbing a pill bottle from the affected person.

The family member did not believe the affected person could have taken all the unaccounted medication in one handful and wondered if she may have taken pills earlier.  The family member further stated she was glad the officers had agreed to the affected person’s request to use the bathroom, as it allowed all three of them to hear the pill bottle rattle.

IIO investigators interviewed the affected person’s partner who confirmed there had been an argument and police had been called.  He told investigators that prior to the police arriving, the affected person had locked herself in their bedroom where he heard a pill bottle rattling.  He stated he kept his medication in the bedroom and the affected person knew where it was.

The partner stated he went downstairs prior to police arrival and confirmed he did not see any interaction between the affected person and the officers.  He advised that after the affected person was removed from the home he noticed some of his medication was missing.  He told the officers he thought the affected person had taken pills but did not think the police believed him.  After the officers left, the partner went to bed.

Neither the partner nor the family member was aware the affected person was at risk to self-harm that day.

IIO investigators interviewed the affected person on January 24, 2014.  She had very limited recall as to what occurred on January 1.  She remembered visiting family and having “a couple of drinks” and then waking up in hospital.  She also had some recollection of being in the bathroom and police standing outside the door.  The affected person reported having many outstanding questions about what happened that night.

IIO investigators obtained additional information from the RCMP PRIME Report.  The involved officers documented attending a complaint at the residence.  One officer confirmed taking statements from a family member and the affected person’s partner.  He did not witness the affected person taking pills but noted his partner was concerned she may have.  The second officer noted he drove the affected person to hospital out of concern she had taken the pills.

Audio recordings from RCMP Dispatch confirmed the second officer left the residence with the affected person at 4:02 a.m. and arrived at the hospital at 4:08 a.m.  As per RCMP policy when lone male officers transport lone females, vehicle mileage was reported to and confirmed by Dispatch.  The vehicle travelled just under 2 kilometres, consistent with the distance from the residence to the hospital.  This information was further confirmed by IIO investigators through a check of the RCMP CAD (Computer Assisted Dispatch) print out.

In order for the IIO to maintain jurisdiction over a case there must be a nexus, or relationship, between the affected person’s injury and the actions of an officer.  In this case, the Chief Civilian Director has reviewed the preliminary evidence and determined there is no nexus, and as such, no jurisdiction to proceed.

The file will be closed with no further action taken.

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