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Man files civil suit alleging excessive force on part of Whistler RCMP

Independent Investigations Office of BC cleared officers of wrongdoing in 2021 arrest that led to broken wrist 
A man who suffered a broken wrist in an arrest last summer has filed civil suit against the Whistler RCMP alleging excessive force and negligence.

A Whistler resident filed civil suit in B.C. Supreme Court earlier this month, alleging local RCMP officers used excessive force and were negligent in his arrest, which led to a broken wrist and other injuries. 

According to the May 9 filing, the individual had an interaction with Whistler RCMP members on or about Aug. 25, 2021 that led to his arrest. He claims officers’ conduct during the arrest was “excessive” and constituted “assault and battery,” with police “aggressively taking hold” of him; “body checking” him into a vehicle; “forcefully” taking him to the ground and putting their weight on his back and legs; stepping on his wrist(s); striking him; and “aggressively” pulling his arms behind his back. 

The suit also called the officers’ conduct during the arrest negligent both “in failing to use reasonable care to ensure the safety and well-being of the Plaintiff” as well as for “applying excessive force” resulting in injury.

“The members of the Whistler RCMP were negligent in the execution of their duties and the result of such negligence caused harm to the Plaintiff,” the filing reads. 

(Pique is withholding the plaintiff’s name on the advice of a health-care professional as he has subsequently come into doctor’s care associated with the public filing.) 

An earlier investigation into the arrest, which led to a fractured wrist, as well as, the suit said, injuries to the individual’s back, neck and shoulders, provided more context to the incident. 

As previously reported in Pique, the Independent Investigation Office (IIO) of B.C. in January released the results of its investigation, which ultimately cleared officers of wrongdoing. 

In his report, the IIO’s chief civilian director Ronald J. MacDonald noted that, on the afternoon of Aug. 25, three Whistler RCMP officers responded to a 911 call alleging a man had uttered threats to a woman during a domestic incident. In the course of the arrest, “there was a scuffle” before the suspect was taken to the ground and handcuffed, the report said. After being apprehended, it was discovered the man had suffered a fractured wrist, and the IIO was notified.

When the officers arrived, they found the suspect in front of the building, where they said he initially appeared calm, but investigators said he “became non-compliant when he was told he was being detained because of the [woman’s] complaint to police about him.” One officer then reportedly took the suspect’s arm behind his back and applied a handcuff to his left wrist, before all three officers found themselves unable to “complete the cuffing process because they could not control [the man’s] right arm.”  

In his written statement (both the individual and the original complainant declined to be interviewed in person by the IIO, instead submitting their written accounts through a lawyer), the man said he was having a panic attack at the time and said that he “began to have a full body tremor” as a result of multiple sclerosis. He described a condition in which his “entire body turned very static or rigid,” unable to move his arms or legs. He noted that his hands were “shaking uncontrollably” and said “it can be quite violent looking.” He goes on to say one of the officers tried to “tackle” him to the ground, and said he was initially unable to get down on the ground because of his disability.

The officers’ statements described the suspect as variously “pulling away,” “twisting” and “spinning,” with the subject officer characterizing him as an “active resister,” and another officer calling his behaviour “assaultive.”

The police and suspect’s accounts diverge here somewhat. One officer told the IIO he saw the suspect twisting and pulling away from police, his left arm still held by the subject officers while his right arm was free and “flailing.” The officer goes on to say he was concerned that the subject officer and other officer, both physically smaller than the suspect, might lose control and need to escalate their use of force. This officer said he ran towards them, intending to tackle the suspect to the ground, but then decided to grab the subject officer and suspect together in a “bear hug” and pin them against the side of the police cruiser.
The man’s written account said one officer came running “and at full speed smashed my head into one of the police vehicles. He used his entire body to throw me into the police vehicle. I immediately sustained a concussion, was lightheaded, nauseous and had blurred vision.”

In addition to the previously listed injuries, the lawsuit asserted the plaintiff suffered aggravation of pre-existing conditions; headaches, including migraines; concussion and post-concussion symptoms; cognitive difficulties; and depression and anxiety. 

These injuries were further aggravated, the suit said, due to the officers’ failure to obtain immediate medical attention for the plaintiff. 

As a result of these injuries, according to the filing, the individual experienced pain and suffering; disability; loss of confidence; mood changes; fatigue; dizziness; sleeplessness; loss of amenities; and loss of enjoyment of life. 

The plaintiff, the suit said, also sustained and continues to sustain a loss of earning capacity and income; damages for medical expenses, including for treatment and physiotherapy, prescription costs, and other incidentals. Further, the suit said, the man’s family and/or friends have either undertaken or assisted him “in relation to activities of daily living, including, but not limited to, housekeeping, home maintenance and travel to and from appointments.” 

The plaintiff is seeking general, special, aggravated and punitive damages, including: damages for past and future wage loss, earning capacity and opportunity; loss of past and future housekeeping capacity; and costs of future care.

None of the above allegations have been proven in court.