RCMP, lacking video, clear NWT officer over February incident
Police in the Northwest Territories say an officer “utilized reasonable actions” in arresting a man who later claimed to have been injured while being taken into custody.
However, RCMP acknowledged a decision taken by the officer meant no dashcam video exists for much of the incident, leaving police unable to determine with certainty what happened.
The incident took place in Yellowknife on February 19.
At a sentencing hearing in April, a lawyer representing the man – Randy Allen – reportedly alleged Allen, 31, had been injured by an officer while being arrested on suspicion of driving while impaired.
Allen’s lawyer, Jessi Casebeer, said he suffered a fractured rib, NNSL reported at the time.
RCMP subsequently announced an inspector with no connection to the case would review the arresting officer’s actions to determine whether they had acted appropriately.
On Thursday, police said that review was complete and the officer’s actions “were found reasonable given the circumstances.”
Cabin Radio has approached Casebeer for comment.
‘Quick action’ required
In a news release summarizing their review’s findings, RCMP said the February incident began when an officer located a stolen vehicle and saw “what was believed to be an intoxicated individual [Allen] behind the wheel.”
The news release said the officer did not activate their lights and siren because “quick action” was required and the lights and siren may have “startle[d] the driver into possible action,” such as trying to flee the scene. The vehicle was reported to be parked at the time.
The decision not to activate the vehicle’s lights and siren meant the vehicle’s dashcam remained switched off, police said. In February, Casebeer had noted police were not able to supply footage of the bulk of the incident.
“The video recording device is activated by turning on lights and siren or manually,” said police on Thursday. “The device was activated manually as soon as the member was able to secure the person and place them into the police vehicle.”
RCMP concluded: “The review finds that while it is possible the man could have been injured while being removed from the vehicle and taken into custody, it was unable to determine when the injury occurred.”
Police do not ordinarily make internal reports available. The summary published on Thursday is the only public account of the independent inspector’s review.
Inspector Alex Laporte, officer in charge of the Yellowknife detachment, said in a statement: “The intent of an independent officer review is to determine if the RCMP’s policies and procedures were followed. In this case, they were.
“We thoroughly reviewed the incident and find the officer acted reasonably and took immediate action to protect the public, the individual, and themselves from the potential threat of a stolen vehicle being put in motion by a possibly intoxicated driver.
“With their actions, the officer ensured a safe resolution to a fluid and risky situation.”
In the past, RCMP have referred cases involving alleged in-custody injury to external agencies for investigation. Police services in Edmonton and Medicine Hat have been called upon to conduct such inquiries in recent years.
Asked why the review of February’s incident remained internal, an RCMP spokesperson said senior managers “try to make the best decisions on the level of review on a case-by-case basis.”
The spokesperson added that RCMP treated the complaint in question as an allegation of in-custody injury from the man’s defence counsel, not the man himself.