The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has found Nanaimo officers used reasonable force when apprehending Shanna-Marie Blanchard, who suffered facial injuries while struggling with police. (File photo)

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has found Nanaimo officers used reasonable force when apprehending Shanna-Marie Blanchard, who suffered facial injuries while struggling with police. (File photo)

Investigation finds Nanaimo RCMP officers used reasonable force detaining woman in mental health crisis

Woman sustained injuries to her face while being apprehended last May

Police in Nanaimo have been cleared of wrongdoing in an incident in which a woman in a mental health crisis suffered injuries to her face while being detained.

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. was called to investigate following the incident May 26, 2020, when a woman suffered injuries to her nose and mouth. Though the IIO found that the RCMP used a reasonable level of force, the complainant Shanna-Marie Blanchard questions the investigation’s process and findings and says she will continue to move forward with a lawsuit against police.

According to an IIO summary of its investigation, RCMP officers responded to a residence where a woman in crisis had locked herself in a bathroom with scissors.

The woman eventually emerged from the bathroom and was informed that she was to be apprehended under the Mental Health Act at which point she “became resistant and a struggle ensued,” the report noted. “In the course of that struggle and a fall that occurred as officers were attempting to walk [her] downstairs … [she] suffered injuries to her face.”

The IIO report details the actions of the officers – which included a strike to the woman’s face delivered by one of the members and the use of a spit hood to prevent her from spitting blood on officers – and the woman’s injuries. It also cites evidence from verbal and written statements by the complainant, three officers, civilian witnesses, a paramedic, police dispatch records, recording of the 911 call and police radio communication, security camera video recording, medical, dental and counselling evidence and the woman’s statement of claim in a lawsuit filed against police.

RELATED: Independent Investigations Office looking into complaint against Nanaimo RCMP

Ronald MacDonald, IIO B.C. chief civilian director, wrote in the investigation’s findings that the officers involved “made observations and received information consistent with [the woman] being a person apparently suffering from a mental disorder and in danger of harming herself” and were justified in their decision to apprehend her and take her to hospital for evaluation.

Regarding the blow to the woman’s face, MacDonald wrote that she reacted to being taken to hospital in a “threatening and resistant manner,” that the officers used necessary and reasonable force to restrain her and in response to her “deliberate strikes against them” the officer used “necessary, reasonable force to stop them.”

“It is unfortunate that [the woman] suffered injuries in the course of the incident, but the evidence does not lead me to conclude that those injuries were the result of an unnecessary or excessive use of force.”

MacDonald noted that the use of a spit hood appeared to be contrary to police policy, but officers were dealing with someone emotionally and physically aggressive who had spat blood on one officer and the hood did not impact her ability to breath and communicate.

He concluded that he didn’t consider there to be reasonable grounds to believe “that an officer may have committed an offence under any enactment.” The IIO will not refer the case to Crown counsel for consideration of charges.

Blanchard provided the News Bulletin with a statement from her legal counsel Ira Tee, which expresses disagreement with the IIO’s conclusion. Blanchard “questions the accuracy of the police officers’ evidence and the fairness of the IIO’s investigation” considering that RCMP members were not compelled to provide statements.

“It is incomprehensible that five officers could not safely control Ms. Blanchard and caused her substantial injuries, including the loss of teeth, a broken nose, broken facial bones, bruising and psychological trauma,” the statement notes, adding that Blanchard has spent almost $10,000 in dental fees.

“Even though the IIO finds no wrongdoing on behalf of the police officers, Ms. Blanchard will continue to pursue her legal rights and remedies in the civil courts,” the statement concludes.



photos@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

RCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Various Victoria locations were hit with a slew of anti-bylaw graffiti Wednesday. This image has been altered to cover up profane language. (Submitted photo)
PHOTOS: Victoria hit with slew of anti-bylaw graffiti

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized

A pedestrian pushing a child in a stroller was struck by a driver while crossing a Highway 1 off-ramp at Burnside Road West on Feb. 24. (Google Streetview)
Pedestrian with child in stroller struck by driver in Saanich crosswalk

Incident occurred in crosswalk in Highway 1 off-ramp at Burnside Road West

Sooke Road was down to single lane alternating traffic after a motor vehicle incident Wednesday morning. (Google Maps)
UPDATED: Sooke Road reopen after motor vehicle incident

Emergency crews were on scene of Wednesday morning incident

West Shore RCMP headquarters in Langford. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore RCMP arrests two suspects in connection to View Royal arson

Investigators determined the fire was deliberately set, targeted

Visitors to Island View Beach Regional Park in Central Saanich could end up paying for parking. (Black Press Media File)
Proposed parking fees for Island View Beach under fire

Central Saanich councillor says timing could not be worse

B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and health minister Adrian Dix wore pink shirts to showcase this year’s motto: “Lift each other up.” (Twitter/PinkShirtDay)
PHOTOS: B.C. celebs take a stand against bullying on Pink Shirt Day

‘We need to let young people know they are not alone and they can reach out to others for help’

Justin Morissette is still recovering from the injuries sustained in the altercation. He is not yet able to walk without assistance. (Justin Morissette, Twitter)
B.C. man suing city and police over violent altercation with anti-LGBTQ preacher

Justin Morissette argues police knew the threat the preacher posed, and failed to keep the peace

Mowi Canada West salmon farm in B.C. waters. Conservative MPs have backed an industry call for further discussions on the timeline for closing Discovery Island farms. (Photo supplied by Mowi Canada)
Conservative MPs back B.C. salmon farmers’ call for transparent discussions

Farm owners requested consultations, more time to leave Discovery Islands

Jack Barnes, who was Cowichan Valley Capitals property from May 2020 until last week, scores a goal for the Penticton Vees during the 2019-20 BCHL season. (Brennan Phillips/Black Press)
COVID-crunched BCHL facing trade deadline dilemma with its 20-year-olds

Hard decisions loom when BCHL may or may not resume play

UBC Okanagan students are among the most food insecure in Canada, according to a new study by UBC.
(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
UBC Okanagan students among most food insecure in Canada

42.3 per cent either can’t properly feed themselves, or are worried they will soon run out of money

A Nanaimo RCMP vehicle in the Woodgrove Centre parking lot. (News Bulletin file photo)
Woman groped by stranger in mall parking lot in Nanaimo

Incident happened near bus loop Saturday, Feb. 20, at about 4:45 p.m.

A 19-year-old man is in police custody following a recent violent robbery and assault in Comox . (File photo)
Arrest made in violent robbery and assault of Comox gas station employee

19-year-old man in police custody after incident where woman was putting things in her car

COVID cases in the Bella Coola Valley have dropped to just four active cases (file photo)
Expanding social circles fuelling North Island COVID-19 spike

Comox Valley COVID spike the result of ‘a series of multiple social gatherings’

Average response times for critical “purple” and “red” calls were between nine and 10 minutes Feb. 19 in Metro Vancouver, with only less critical “yellow” calls receiving an average response time of 45 minutes. The longer than usual delay was due to a combination of factors, BC Emergency Health Services said. (APBC image)
After a night of one-hour waits for ambulances, union goes public with concerns

B.C. Ambulance Service says high-priority calls were still 10 minutes or less

Most Read