B.C. IIO report: No excessive force used in Salmon Arm roof incident

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. says it is not recommending charges against Salmon Arm police after looking into a standoff that ended with a man falling from the roof of a house after an officer sprayed him with water from a garden hose.

On Wednesday, the IIO released a six-page report regarding the incident, which they say happened on May 17, 2018, though the man didn’t contact them until April 25, 2019.

“He alleged that they sprayed him with a hose, which made him fall and break something in his foot and caused many other problems,” the IIO said in its report.

In detailing the incident, the IIO said it started the investigation, as the man’s injury may have been within the definition of “serious harm” as defined in the police act.

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Prior to the May 17 incident, the report said, the man disclosed that he had jumped out of a two- or three-storey building in Alberta, and that it had been determined he had a heel fracture.

“The told the IIO that following this earlier incident, he decided to drive to B.C. to hand himself over to police, as he was unaware of outstanding warrants against him,” said the report.

The man said he drove to Vernon with his broken foot, and admitted he had not slept for days due to consuming illegal substances.

On May 17, the report said the man’s vehicle had a tire puncture in Enderby, but that BC Emergency Health Services (EHS) and police were called due to the man’s “unusual being witnessed by civilians.

“ was making claims that people were after him and he had to get to police.”

The man was taken to Salmon Arm hospital shortly after 5 p.m., but was not arrested.

At the hospital, the man said he “recognized staff from previous dealings and thought they were out to get him.” He wound up leaving the hospital in shorts, a t-shirt and one sandal on his healthy foot.

He then went to houses opposite the hospital, eventually reaching a property on 8th Avenue, where he tapped on the door, screaming for help and for someone to call police.

The home owner told IIO she saw a man in her backyard garden, shouting to call police. After locking her doors, the woman said she became aware of the man climbing onto her shed, then on her roof.

The home owner said she went outside and told the man to get down from the roof, “as he was ripping off roof tiles and throwing them down.”

Three police officers arrived, but the man did not believe they were real RCMP members. The officers later said he was under arrest for causing mischief and would be detained under the Mental Health Act.

The report said members of the RCMP’s Emergency Response Team were training nearby “and offered assistance with less-lethal weapon options.”

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Members of the fire department were called to the scene, as were the man’s family members, but all were unsuccessful in trying to coax the man down.

At 10:20 p.m., a crisis negotiator was contacted, with the negotiator explaining “that if had taken an illegal substance just before police contact, the effects would soon be wearing off. It was also suggested that a garden hose could be used to make wet and uncomfortable in an effort to get him down.”

At 11:30 p.m., officers left the scene, with ERT members maintaining visual contact.

Later, ERT said the man was falling asleep by the chimney, with police driving by with their sirens on to wake him up. The report said this was successful several times, but that the man would fall asleep again.

It was then that the garden hose option would be used.

One officer climbed a ladder and began spraying the man with water. The man rebelled, throwing another ladder he had pulled on the roof at the officer.

The officer nearly fell off his ladder, but stayed upright and continued spraying the man, who at first went down the roof, but climbed back up and wound up ripping off a satellite dish before throwing it down.

The man then began climbing down the roof a second time, but slipped and fell, “landing astride the handrail on the side steps of the house. The bottom post of the handrail broke with the force of the impact and landed on the ground.”

The man was arrested and was taken to hospital, where it was determined he had groin-area injuries, but that his fractured heel was not a new injury.

In making its decision, the IIO said the man needed to be taken down from the roof because he was breaking the law while also putting himself in serious danger.

In summing up the incident, the IIO said “it cannot be said that any of the officer’s actions in the course of the incident were unjustified or unreasonable, or that any use of force was excessive in the circumstances.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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