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Dehcho

RCMP genital grab is unusual but can be legal, NWT judge finds


A Fort Providence RCMP officer’s “grabbing and twisting” of a violent prisoner’s genitals was reasonable force in the “unique set of circumstances” police encountered in a dark, snowy yard on October 29, 2019, a judge ruled.

NWT Territorial Court Judge Garth Malakoe said the procedure did not violate the section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that deals with life, liberty and security of the person.

Both officers were protecting themselves from grievous bodily harm from their resistant prisoner, the judge said, and the application of force to the prisoner’s penis and testicles by the male officer was for the purpose of “causing him pain and to get him to comply.”

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“The fact that these were the sexual organs of the accused was not relevant … there was no sexual purpose for [the officer’s] actions,” Malakoe ruled.

“It was the sensitivity, the pain which made [the accused’s] genitals the object of [the officer’s] twisting. I am satisfied … the sole purpose in grabbing and twisting the genitals was to obtain (the man’s) compliance.

“I am alive to the issue that this type of force is unusual and should be subject to close scrutiny … it can only be employed in certain situations. In this situation, the force was neither gratuitous or excessive.”

The court had heard the male corporal weighed between 140 and 150 pounds – about the same as the prisoner – and the female constable was five feet tall.

“There were few options available to the officers in this unique set of circumstances,” said the judge.

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“Police officers are able to use a reasonable amount of force when it comes to arresting suspects, or preventing suspects from fleeing.

“There are limits to the use of force … police officers do not have the power to inflict unlimited harm on someone in the course of their duties.”

Given the unusual and potentially inflammatory nature of the case, Cabin Radio is not naming the accused and the two RCMP officers.

The corporal testified the genital squeeze was not a tactic he learned during training.

“It was not a standard practice, but he was taught to use whatever technique possible to achieve compliance,” said Malakoe, reading from his decision.

“The corporal … said that he has learned during his experience as a police officer that grabbing genitals is a very effective technique to attain compliance.”

The constable testified she had been taught during training that “if matters escalate, grabbing someone’s genitals was an option.”

At the time the corporal twisted the man’s penis and testicles, he had been kicked by the man and hit in the face by the handcuff on the man’s hand, said the judge. Both officers were left with minor injuries.

While the crotch grab did elicit a scream from the prisoner, ultimately a shot of pepper spray was required to subdue the man.

The late-night incident began after police received a report of an intoxicated man and possible assault.

The man was found guilty of two counts of assaulting a peace officer, one count of resisting arrest, and two breaches of a probation order. Sentencing is expected on June 7.

The accused listened to the decision by phone from the RCMP detachment. The officer on duty on Monday in the Fort Providence detachment was the same one who had grabbed the man’s privates in 2019.

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