Excessive force allegation under police investigation

  • Dec. 13, 2006 9:00 a.m.

A Prince Rupert RCMP officer has been called in to investigate an allegation of excessive force by RCMP in Masset. Pepper spray, a taser and a baton were used to subdue a young man during his arrest on Nov. 4. The man was arrested for causing a disturbance at 12:55 am on Main Street in Masset. A public complaint about excessive force was lodged within a week of the incident said Masset detachment commander Sergeant Jim Vardy. He said the complaint was made to the Masset office, but as the supervising officer, he decided it would be better to bring in someone from off island to investigate. The taser has been used only twice in Masset since Sergeant Vardy took over the top cop job in July 2005. He says police are trained in a graduated incident managemen intervention model. The first step is to tell someone they are under arrest, if that has no effect, then a soft hand approach is used, with the officer laying a hand on the suspect. If the person still resists, the officer is trained to use pepper spray, then a taser and finally a baton. Each time a taser is used, the incident is reviewed. Sergeant Vardy added that the Section 25 of the Criminal Code allows the RCMP to use as much force as deemed necessary, but the officer must be able to justify the use of force. The investigator visited Masset and interviewed several witnesses and people involved in the case. The investigator will complete a report to Crown Counsel, which will be forwarded to Regional Crown Council in Prince George to review and on to Victoria. If deemed appropriate, charges will be laid against the officer involved, says Sergeant Vardy. Sergeant Vardy has briefed the chief councillor in Old Massett, the Council of the Haida Nation, and the Masset council on the incident.

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