A Chase RCMP officer has been cleared of wrongdoing by the B.C. Independent Investigations Office (IIO) after a young woman was seriously injured in a fall from a bridge shortly after talking to him.
The IIO is a civilian-led organization that investigates incidents where police actions or inaction lead to serious harm or death.
According to the IIO, during an Oct. 2, 2020 incident, police were initially called following reports of a young woman jumping in front of a vehicle near the skate park on Pine Street in Chase. An RCMP officer was provided with a description of the young woman and went looking for her. The report notes that a civilian witness described the woman as wearing socks, but no shoes.
The report states the officer located a woman matching the description walking along the sidewalk on Pine Street. He got out of his vehicle and asked the woman about the reports of someone jumping in front of a car. According to the IIO, the woman swore at the officer and walked away.
Dashcam footage considered in the investigation showed that the interaction lasted less than a minute and the woman walked north towards the Pine Street Bridge. The officer left and drove back to the Chase RCMP detachment.
A few minutes later, the police received a 911 call from a witness who saw the young woman fall from the bridge onto the beach below. She suffered serious injuries.
The stated purpose of the IIO investigation was to determine if there is reason to believe the officer committed an offence concerning the serious harm the young woman suffered. Along with statements from the young woman and several witnesses including a paramedic and two police officers, the investigation considered dash camera footage, recordings of police radio conversations and police and paramedic records.
The report notes that the RCMP officer had limited information and an incomplete description of the young woman in question when he was called about the person jumping in front of the car. The IIO found the officer had no lawful basis to detain the young woman when she would not stop to talk with him. Investigators found the officer reasonably concluded that he did not have sufficient information to confirm the woman had committed an offence, required help or was even the subject of the original call.
“It is clear that she too acted within her rights in refusing his assistance and telling him, in no uncertain terms, to leave her alone,” the report reads.
It suggests that it might have been prudent for the officer to follow the young woman but it was not what she wanted and not what the officer was duty-bound to do.
The report, signed by the IIO’s Chief Civilian Director Ronald J. MacDonald, concludes by saying the investigation found no reasonable grounds to believe the officer committed an offence and therefore the matter will not be referred to Crown counsel for the consideration of charges.