The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) has cleared officers with the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP of any wrongdoing in the arrest of a woman in December 2020, which left her with a serious eye injury. (File Photo)

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) has cleared officers with the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP of any wrongdoing in the arrest of a woman in December 2020, which left her with a serious eye injury. (File Photo)

Vernon police cleared of wrongdoing after intoxicated woman injured during arrest

B.C. police watchdog investigated the 2020 arrest in which a woman suffered a serious eye injury

Officers with the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP have been cleared of wrongdoing after an intoxicated woman sustained a serious eye injury during the course of her arrest in December 2020.

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) released a decision on the matter Thursday, Jan. 20. According to the decision, four Vernon RCMP officers went to an apartment in response to a domestic disturbance on Dec. 12, 2020.

There, they found three intoxicated individuals, two men and one woman. One of the men was breaching a court order to not be with the female occupant of the apartment (his partner) if he had been drinking. He was hiding in the bedroom when police arrived but was arrested soon after.

The unnamed woman admitted she was “upset” and “very angry” at police once they arrived at her home. She said she had consumed a mickey of liquor and was a six on a scale of one to 10 in terms of how drunk she was.

One of the officers described the woman’s apartment as “some of the worst living conditions I’ve ever seen,” with garbage, rotten food, spilled beer and cooking oil covering the counters and floor.

The woman was taken into custody for “mischief” after she swung her fist at one of the officers who was trying to move her out of the doorway while her partner was being escorted from the apartment in handcuffs, according to the officer.

Before police could remove her from the apartment, the woman fell in the kitchen, suffering an injury to her left eye.

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She was placed in a cell at the Vernon RCMP detachment until a paramedic arrived shortly after and wheeled her out on a stretcher. It was noted that her eye was visibly injured and she had blood on her face upon stepping out of her apartment.

The woman claimed she was pushed up against her kitchen stove by the officers and then pushed to the floor. She alleged that her fall in the kitchen and the resulting injury was caused by unnecessary force. However, statements from the officers describe that she deliberately went “dead weight” and fell forward out of grasp in an attempt to obstruct the arrest.

“When they were trying to get her out of the kitchen she just kinda went deadweight. Like, just stopped walking and slumped down. At that point … she hit her face off the garbage can in the kitchen,” reads one officer’s statement in the decision.

The investigation by B.C.’s police watchdog worked to determine if unnecessary or excessive force was used by any of the officers over the course of the woman’s arrest.

“Once she was in handcuffs and being walked out of the apartment, there was no reason for (the officer) to suddenly and gratuitously push her down to the floor, and it appears unlikely that he did,” chief civilian director Ronald J. MacDonald said in his decision.

Instead, he said the woman’s behaviour and perhaps the cluttered state of the kitchen and floor were the most likely reasons for the fall and injury.

The IIO cleared the officers of any wrongdoing in the arrest.

The Independent Investigations Office is a civilian-led police watchdog agency that conducts investigations into incidents of death or serious harm that may or may not have been the result of police actions.

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Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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