Police response under investigation

·2 min read

The Office of the Police Commissioner has confirmed, RCMP will investigate actions by the Charlottetown Police last fall during a wellness check.

A Charlottetown man, whose identity we are withholding, was appalled to discover in medical records how police officers treated him when unconscious and fighting for life.

“It was disturbing to see,” said the man, who we will refer to as Tom.

“No matter what way you look at it, it just isn’t right.”

Tom’s friend (who we will call Michelle) called police to perform a wellness check. Police responded and subsequently called paramedics. Tom had tried to kill himself.

When paramedics arrived, they found Tom lying unresponsive in the hallway of his apartment in a pool of blood with his hands cuffed behind his back, feet shackled and a spit mask over his face.

He had cut his neck multiple times completely lacerating his skin but luckily he hadn’t penetrated his trachea.

Paramedics estimated Tom lost two litres of blood and had been unresponsive for about five minutes when they arrived.

They requested police remove the handcuffs and spit mask to have better access to insert IVs and address his neck wounds.

Police refused citing Tom might become aggressive and combative if he regained responsiveness. Paramedics could not treat Tom using IVs, in part because of the placement of the cuffs.

“I was taken aback about the report, about paramedics not being able to get in to treat me while I was in that state because of what the police said,” Tom told The Graphic.

Michelle added, police could have at least put a bandage on his neck to slow the bleeding or performed basic first aid until paramedics arrived.

With Michelle’s help, Tom submitted a complaint to the police commissioner.

“This kind of thing needs to be brought up,” Tom said.

“The police commissioner asked me what I might want out of this,” Tom said. “I don’t want anyone to lose their job or anything like that but an apology would be appreciated.”

Tom stressed it is vitally important that this never happens to others.

“It’s important to speak up and I’m glad we did what we did,” said Tom about submitting a complaint and talking with media.

Despite speaking out Tom has little trust in the complaints and investigation process intended to hold police accountable for their practices.

“I don’t think the police officers will be held responsible for what they did but I’m prepared for that,” he said. “I think they are just going to pick it apart as much as they can and come back with the same old thing, the officers won’t be held accountable.”

Tom acknowledged that the RCMP will be investigating the situation, independent from Charlottetown City Police, but at the end of the day, he believes police investigating police rarely goes far toward achieving transparency and accountability.

Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic