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Vancouver police cleared of wrongdoing after woman alleges injury on downtown patio

Investigators from B.C.'s Independent Investigations Office are seen in this file photo from the IIO. Investigators from B.C.'s Independent Investigations Office are seen in this file photo from the IIO.
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British Columbia's police oversight agency has cleared the Vancouver Police Department of wrongdoing after a woman alleged officers injured her shoulder and pulled down her pants to search her after she refused to leave the patio of a downtown restaurant.

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. issued a report Tuesday after the woman complained the officers acted "like raging animals" during her Aug. 12, 2023 arrest. According to the IIO, the woman's allegations against the police were not substantiated by any of the available evidence provided in the case.

The complainant, who is unnamed in the report, told the agency that she was "drunk" and smoking a cigarette on the patio after a bad night, according to the police watchdog report. Staff asked her to leave the patio but she admittedly refused and the police were called.

The woman alleged that officers grabbed her without warning and lifted her off the ground, injuring her right shoulder, which she said was already limited in its mobility after a surgery 30 years before. She claimed she was then thrown up against a police car where her pants were pulled down and she was searched.

The complainant said the officers put her in the back of a police van before eventually telling her at the police station that she'd be released without charge.

Intake records from the police jail indicate the woman was detained for public intoxication but was ordered released because she was found to be able to take care of herself, according to the watchdog report.

However, a witnessing officer told the agency that the woman was threatening to harm herself. The intake records and police vehicle data show "the van was redirected to the hospital shortly after it arrived at the jail, as (the woman) was now apprehended under the Mental Health Act," according to the IIO.

Sandra Hentzen, the IIO's chief civilian director, found in her report that police did not use excessive force during the arrest.

"The available evidence does not support any allegation of improper acts by any officer," Hentzen concluded.

"I do not consider that there are any reasonable grounds to believe that an officer may have committed an offence under any enactment and therefore the matter will not be referred to Crown counsel for consideration of charges."

The IIO is an independent police watchdog that investigates all officer-related incidents that result in serious harm or death in B.C., whether or not there is any allegation of wrongdoing.

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