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

The Ladysmith Museum has two new exhibits open to the public. (Cole Schisler photo)
Ladysmith museum opens up with two new exhibits

The museum is featuring Prime Predators of Vancouver Island and ‘Red Flag, Red Flag’

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen to field COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

Cole Schisler, editor of the Ladysmith Chronicle.
Hatred has no place anywhere

We accomplish so much more when we respect each other

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Rachel Dunstan Muller. (Submitted photo)
Ladysmith storyteller Rachel Dunstan Muller launches pair of podcasts

Hintertales: Stories from the Margins of History and Sticks and Stones and Stories are available now

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Most Read