Halifax police cleared of wrongdoing after man found unconscious in cells

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Halifax Regional Police officers have been cleared of wrongdoing by the province's Serious Incident Response Team after a man arrested by a psychiatric hospital was later found unconscious in police cells.

At around 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 22, 2016, police arrested the 47-year-old on grounds of the Nova Scotia Hospital in Dartmouth for intoxication in a public place. According to police, the man had been drinking and "was acting oddly and aggressively" towards security guards and a hospital employee.

The man was put into police cells at around 10:25 p.m. On a routine check 17 minutes later, officers found the man unconscious after he attempted to hang himself with his sweater, according to a SIRT report released Thursday.

SIRT investigators determined that although the man had been acting oddly, he was not overly intoxicated and the report says at no time did he give an indication he was depressed and could harm himself.

Officers 'followed reasonable procedures'

The report says officers responsible for the care of prisoners that evening "followed reasonable procedures," and followed standard procedures in terms of prisoner checks. 

The report also concluded officers, upon finding the man unconscious in the cell, responded appropriately with emergency help and called paramedics. 

"The man's condition initially was very dire," says the report. "Although he has now recovered significantly, he continues to suffer from a serious brain injury."

SIRT is responsible for investigating all serious incidents involving police in Nova Scotia, whether or not there is an allegation of wrongdoing.