The police watchdog has cleared officers of wrongdoing after a Surrey arrest that left a man with a fractured knee.
In its findings, released April 18, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) found officers involved in the March 14, 2017 incident in Fleetwood did not use excessive or unreasonable force on the man arrested.
The evidence does not support the man’s contention that “police jumped on his leg,” according to the police watchdog’s report.
The report found the man’s injury appeared to be caused as an “unintentional result of the struggle” when officers and the man went down.
“Rather, it supports the conclusion the actions of the officers were a lawful part of their arrest… and a consequence of his resistance to the officer’s efforts.”
In its investigation, the police watchdog collected evidence from witnesses, a surgeon, officers, police radio transmissions, dispatch records as well as medical records.
The incident in question took place just before 2:30 a.m. on March 14, 2017 when officers arrested a man for mischief and causing a disturbance following a complaint he had allegedly assaulted someone the day before.
Officers first visited the residence when a complainant told police the man had assaulted him. At that time, police warned the man not to make physical contact with the complainant.
Surrey RCMP told IIO it received three more complaints with respect the the man setting off a smoke detector and loudly knocking on the complainant’s doors.
On the second visit to the residence, officers arrived to hear loud banging and yelling, according to the report.
The man was told if police had to come back a third time, he would be arrested.
That’s when officers began to retrace their steps along a narrow walkway to exit the property, and the man followed to lock the gate, according to the report.
The man told IIO that one of the officers grabbed him and threw him into the side of the house, face first, then jumped on his leg.
“I couldn’t even breathe, I was in so much pain,” he told the police watchdog. “And he stood there with his big boot on my back, me face down…. I don’t think he realized, because it’s so dark back there, that — how much damage that caused.”
The officer denied jumping on the man’s leg or standing with his boot on the man’s back. The officer said he heard the man say, “I’m locking you out,” before the incident, which he took to mean the man intended to lock police out so as to block their return to arrest him.
That’s when one of the officers said he took the man’s arm, but that the two officers in attendance “could not get control” of the man, leading to the use of “a couple” elbow strikes to the man’s shoulder.
Eventually, the two officers and the man went to the ground. One officer told the police watchdog the man attempted to resist being handcuffed.
Soon after the man was successfully handcuffed, officers took note of a knee injury and an ambulance was called.
According to emergency crews, the man was “violent and unco-operative,” and they could not safely take his blood pressure or poke his finger to obtain a drop of blood to measure his glucose level.
An orthopaedic surgeon who performed surgery on the man said the type of injury would typically be sustained as a result of a “fall or motor vehicle collision.” The surgeon noted while it is “theoretically possible” that a “very forceful blow to the medial aspect of the knee” could yield such an injury, it was not common.
The watchdog’s report concluded no officer committed an offence during the incident, and no charges will be recommended.