RCMP officer was justified using hose in rooftop standoff: B.C. watchdog

Police watchdog finds officers actions reasonable when man injured in 2018 incident

The Independent Investigations Office of BC has found Salmon Arm RCMP are not responsible for the injuries of a man apprehended after a seven-hour standoff atop a Salmon Arm residence.

The investigation centred on events which occurred on Thursday, May 17, 2018. During the seven-hour standoff, officers began spraying the man with water so he would not go to asleep and fall off the roof. This spraying made the roof slippery and the man fell, landing on his groin astride a hand railing. The IIO found the use of the hose was not unjustified or unreasonable given the circumstances.

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The story began in Alberta where the unidentified man jumped out of a multi-storey building, fracturing his ankle. He then decided to drive to B.C. to turn himself in to police because of outstanding warrants against him. He arrived in Vernon with his broken foot and admitted to police he had not slept for days due to consuming illegal substances.

One of his tires was punctured in Enderby and, around this time, Emergency Health Services (EHS) and police were called due to his unusual behaviour such as making claims people were after him.

EHS took the man to the Salmon Arm hospital where he only stayed for an hour as he said he recognized staff and thought they were out to get him. As no police officers were with him at the hospital, he said he believed he was not under arrest and left around 6 p.m. in just shorts, a T-shirt and one sandal on his healthy foot.

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He went to a residence on 8th Avenue near the hospital, tapped on the door and began screaming for help and for someone to call police. In response, the owner of the house locked the doors only to realize the stranger had used her shed to climb onto her roof.

She went out to tell the man to get down as he was ripping off roof tiles and throwing them down.

Two officers arrived wearing plainclothes and marked vests, with another uniformed officer in a marked police car, but the man did not believe they were real officers One of the officers told him he was under arrest for mischief and was being detained under the Mental Health Act.

As the man continued to throw roof tiles, an Emergency Response Team (ERT) arrived and attempted to coax the man off the roof. The Salmon Arm Fire Department was also called but the man did not believe either service was real.

The fire department placed two ladders to help the man get down, but he remained on the roof. He demanded food and water, requests that were met with a sandwich and drink placed in the gutter.

The man’s family was also contacted but they too were unsuccessful in convincing him to come down. The man’s family and the fire department left the scene at approximately 10 p.m., leaving the two ladders behind.

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Twenty minutes later a crisis negotiator was contacted. The negotiator suggested that a garden hose could be used to make the man wet and uncomfortable in an effort to get him down.

The man was seen falling asleep near the chimney and officers stated they feared for his safety, leading to the decision to start spraying him with the garden hose. An officer climbed a ladder to reach the man with the spray. Realizing this, the man threw a ladder he had pulled up onto the roof toward the officers, nearly knocking off the officer.

Over the course of the standoff the man also ripped off a satellite dish and threw it at the officers. While moving around the roof, the man slipped and fell to the ground, breaking the railing he landed on.

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The investigation found the use of the hose was a reasonable alternative to forcing the man down, although the tactic was not intended to result in him slipping and falling.


@CameronJHT
Cameron.thomson@saobserver.net

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