(Updated with HRP response)
The province’s Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) released its report today regarding the investigation into the January 15, 2020 arrest of an adult female in a Halifax Walmart. During the arrest, the female suffered several injuries including a fractured wrist.
On January 15, 2020 Halifax Regional Police were called to a Halifax Walmart to investigate a complaint of an alleged shoplifting offense. As the officer approached the female, he noticed she was already in an agitated state. When questioned about the contents of her stroller, she became more upset, accusing the officer of being racist.
A second officer arrived and upon entering the store, heard a female yelling. He followed the sound to the toy section. When he reached the aisle, he saw the female yelling at the first officer. Both officers attempted to de-escalate the situation and calm her down. They warned her several times that her behaviour could result in her arrest for causing a disturbance in a public place, but those warnings were ignored.
When the female started to walk down the aisle towards a store employee, the second officer grabbed her arm to arrest her. She resisted and scratched the officer’s face with her nails before being taken to the ground. While on the ground, she scratched his face again, drawing blood and then struck him in the groin. The officer responded by striking her in the face.
The main question was whether the officer used excessive force during the arrest. Given the aggressiveness of the female, the actions of the officer in this matter were reasonable to effect the arrest and protect himself. As a result, the evidence did not support any finding that the officer involved should face any criminal charges.
SIRT is responsible for investigating all serious incidents involving police in Nova Scotia. Investigations are under the direction and control of independent civilian director Felix Cacchione.
HRP statement on SiRT’s investigation report into Walmart incident
Further to a report released today by Nova Scotia Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) related to an incident involving our officers at Walmart on Mumford Road in January, below is a statement by Halifax Regional Police:
“Earlier today, we received the Serious Incident Response Team’s report into an incident to which HRP officers responded in January at Walmart on Mumford Road in Halifax.
“The completion of SiRT’s investigation is an important step in the process. We are currently reviewing the report in order to determine our next steps. At this time, we can confirm that an investigation into the public complaint on this matter, which had been put in abeyance pending the SiRT investigation, will now proceed.
“We recognize that this incident has been the subject of significant public interest, but in every instance, it is important to let due process unfold. Building trust with communities we serve is a priority for HRP. Today, we re-affirm our commitment to continually work towards that goal.”