June 25th, 2024

LPS cleared in ASIRT report regarding 2019 incident

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on November 15, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) has completed an investigation into an incident that took place in May 2019 and has released the executive director’s full report.

ASIRT was directed to investigate the admission of a man to hospital after an interaction with Lethbridge Police Service officers.

The report states that ASIRT interviewed all relevant civilian and police witnesses, obtained and reviewed all available relevant video evidence and considered the medical records of the affected person.

ASIRT executive director Michael Ewenson states in his report that officers with LPS were searching for the affected person, as he was wanted for allegedly assaulting a toddler the previous day.

The report states that an officer searched areas where the man was known to associate, and was successful in locating the vehicle he was last seen in. The officer provided her findings and location over the radio and another officer then attended the location to assist.

According to the report the officers approached the vehicle and found that it was running and the man was asleep reclined in the driver’s seat. One of the officers opened the driver’s door and shut the vehicle off. He then woke the man and had him exit the vehicle. He complied, and upon getting out of the vehicle, he was arrested for aggravated assault and outstanding warrants.

The report states that the man was handcuffed behind his back. He was then leaning against the exterior of the vehicle, and on his own, he banged his head on the vehicle. After being placed in the vehicle, he banged his head at least three times against the plexiglass divider inside. At that point the officers opened the door and placed the seatbelt on him to avoid further banging of his head, but he was able to get out of the seatbelt shortly after. He then was laying partially prone in the back and had a bleeding nose and laboured breathing. At this point EMS was requested and the officers began first aid on him.

Ewanson states as his conclusion in the report that in this case, it is clear that the only physical contact by police on the man was in the process of arresting him; and that was only in placing handcuffs on him and in trying to seatbelt him in. The only other physical contact was when the officers were providing first aid to him.

“The information of the witness officers that (the man) was banging his own head against the plexiglass divider in the police car, was corroborated by not only two civilian witnesses, but the (man) himself. Whatever the reason for the (man’s) medical episode, there is no evidence to suggest that it arose from anything done by any officer with LPS,” said Ewanson in his report.

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