Manitoba’s police watchdog agency recently released its report on an investigation into a Thompson RCMP arrest that led to a man suffering a collapsed lung, following the conclusion of court proceedings against the injured man connected to the incident.
The arrest and injury took place in November 2020 and the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba (IIU), which investigates all serious incidents involving on- and off-duty police officers in the province, said in August that no charges were recommended against any of the three officers involved. The report was not released at the time due to ongoing court proceedings against the man who suffered the collapsed lung that were related to the incident.
The report says the three officers who arrested the man attended the residence he was in on Nov. 12, 2020 because another occupant thought the man might have been fighting with his girlfriend in the other room. When they arrived and knocked on the bedroom door, the man opened it and then tried to retreat inside before being grabbed by an officer and brought out to the living room.
The 26-year-old man was intoxicated at the time and had an order not to contact or communicate with his girlfriend. Police said the man kept trying to leave the residence despite being told he had to stay while they sorted out what had happened. The last time that he tried to leave, two officers grabbed his arms and one pulled out his handcuffs to place the man under arrest. The man escaped their grasp and the two officers tackled him to the ground. As they were doing so, one officer dropped his handcuffs and the third officer, feeling they could be used as a weapon of opportunity and that the situation could result in injuries to either the man or the officers, used a conductive energy weapon (similar to a taser) to subdue the man so that he could be handcuffed.
Following the arrest, the man was taken to Thompson General Hospital for an assessment and treatment of injuries including a cut on his face and a bloody mouth, believed to have been the result of him hitting his face when he was taken down and then tasered. After spending the night in RCMP cells, he awoke in pain and having difficulty breathing and was taken back to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a collapsed lung.
A medical expert consulted by the IIU said the lung injury could have resulted from force compressing the man’s chest cavity when one of the police officers fell on top of him. The injured man said he believed it was caused by police kneeling on his rib cage while he was on the floor.
Only one of the police officers involved in the arrest provided their notes and supplementary reports to IIU investigators. The other two did not and all three declined to be interviewed, as is their right.
The man who was injured had not assaulted anyone prior to being arrested but had been hitting himself in anger, he said, after getting into an argument with his girlfriend.