Officer won't face charges after trying to stop teen from jumping from overpass, SIRT finds

The New Brunswick Department of Justice asked Nova Scotia's Serious Incident Response Team to conduct an independent investigation into what happened right before a 13-year-old girl fell from an overpass over the Trans-Canada Highway.  (SIRT - image credit)
The New Brunswick Department of Justice asked Nova Scotia's Serious Incident Response Team to conduct an independent investigation into what happened right before a 13-year-old girl fell from an overpass over the Trans-Canada Highway. (SIRT - image credit)

An RCMP officer will not be facing any charges after he couldn't stop a 13-year-old girl from jumping from an overpass southeast of Fredericton.

The Nova Scotia's independent Serious Incident Response Team began an investigation after the unidentified girl was seriously, but not fatally, injured on May 9 in Oromocto.

She escaped from a provincially funded group home and climbed over the railing of a highway overpass at around 10 p.m. that night.

The officer approached her, and when she let go of the railing, he grabbed her wrist, the report said. He was unable to hold on and she fell.

The report found there was no criminality in the unnamed officer's actions, and grabbing her wrist straightened her fall so she landed on her legs instead of her back.

"The [officer's] actions are to be commended in these circumstances and absolutely nothing criminal in nature occurred that night," the report says. "Therefore, there are no grounds for any charges."

Child 'managed to escape' 24/7 supervision

The child was a temporary ward of the province, living in a supervised residence operated by a private company and funded by the government, the report said. She was supervised by three people around the clock "due to her being a flight and suicidal risk."

At around 10 p.m. she "managed to escape without notice," the report said.

The report draws on eyewitness accounts from two people, both of whom were driving nearby that night. One witness  happened to be an off-duty team supervisor at the home.

The first witness saw the girl run across Waasis Road and onto an overpass that crosses the Trans-Canada Highway into Oromocto West, the report said. That witness saw her climb over the railing and stand on the ledge facing the railing and holding on with two hands.

The second witness, the off-duty supervisor, called 911, the report said.

Within a few minutes, the three staff members from the home and the officer in question arrived at the overpass separately.

The report said the officer had previously interacted with the child during her other encounters with RCMP.

He was "well known to the [child] and had formed a positive relationship with her," the report said.

When the officer arrived at the overpass, he started approaching slowly and trying to talk her off the ledge.

Another officer arrived, and told SIRT the officer in question was trying to comfort the child and "at the same time moved closer" to her.

The child told the officer that she didn't want the three staff members to come closer, and "there wasn't anything the [officer] could do to stop her," the report said.

As the officer approached she let go and started to fall back, and the officer lunged forward and grabbed her left wrist. The report said the officer couldn't keep her from slipping, and she fell 17 feet (about five metres) to the ground.

Hospital staff told the officer the child, identified in the report as AP, had broken her right leg, right wrist, some ribs and her jaw, the report said.

However, her social worker told SIRT the child would give a statement.

"The SiRT investigator was not able to get an exact verification of AP's injuries as efforts to get such information were not forthcoming," the report said.

The investigation was concluded on July 27.

RCMP spokesperson Hans Oullette said no internal investigation was conducted after the incident, but the RCMP requested the review from SIRT  because of the "seriousness" of the situation.

According to Statistics Canada, after accidents, suicide has been the second leading cause of death for people aged 14 to 24 since at least 2000.

If you need help:

CHIMO hotline: 1-800-667-5005  / http://www.chimohelpline.ca

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566.