RCMP officer cleared by police watchdog after Chase teen's suicide attempt | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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RCMP officer cleared by police watchdog after Chase teen's suicide attempt

March 24, 2021 - 12:56 PM

A police watchdog investigation has cleared a Chase RCMP officer of wrongdoing following a young Indigenous woman's suicide attempt just after speaking to him.

Within minutes of the pair having spoken briefly, police received a call that a person fell from the Pine Street Bridge onto the beach beside the South Thompson River, according to a recent Independent Investigations Office of B.C. report.

The officer involved in the investigation spoke to the Indigenous youth on Pine Street around noon on October 2, 2020 following a report that someone had "thrown herself in front of a vehicle."

The caller described the person as an Indigenous female, between 16 and 18 years old, and wearing socks but no shoes.

The officer found her near the skatepark on Pine Street. Video evidence reviewed by the independent investigators found that the officer got out of his vehicle and said to her, "I heard someone jumped in front of a car."

She swore at the officer and walked away.

"The Watchguard video shows the interaction lasted for less than a minute before he left to drive back to the RCMP detachment," according to the report.

Then the report that someone had fallen from the bridge came to police. The officer under investigation told the dispatcher he just spoke to her.

While the officer attempted to return to the scene, he was stuck behind a passing train.

A recorded conversation between the call-taker and the officer reviewed by the independent investigators revealed that the officer was reminded that the female was under no obligation to speak to her if he had no legal grounds to detain her.

The youth required a six-hour surgery and "significant treatment" after her injuries, which included fractures to her pelvis and spine, lacerations and internal injuries.

During the investigation, she confirmed that she swore at the officer, but also said the officer lacked the proper training to deal with her situation.

She said she attempted suicide for the first time shortly before trying to jump in front of a vehicle on Pine Street.

While none of the witnesses mentioned that her clothes were wet, the girl's mother "confirmed that her clothing was still wet hours later."

The investigation included witness statements from civilians, a paramedic and two police officers. They also reviewed dash camera footage, audio recordings and medical records.

They noted that the Independent Investigations Office "does not compel officers who are the subject of an investigation to submit their notes, reports and data," and that the officer chose not to provide those for the investigation.

The independent investigators decided that the RCMP officer was not criminally liable in this incident.

"The evidence indicates that (the officer) was affected emotionally by the incident, and may have second-guessed his decisions.... That is to be expected. However, this does not make those decisions unreasonable, and certainly does not raise them to the level of criminal culpability," the report concluded.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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