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Police arrest several people during World Naked Bike Ride

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I bet that headline got your attention.

Sure got mine.

It’s just one of several cases mentioned in 2010 annual report for Manitoba’s Law Enforcement Review Agency, which was just released by the Attorney General’s office this week.

The best part of the annual report are the samples of complaints lodged against police. If anything, some of them show what police deal with every day.

Here’s the one about the naked cyclists and a few more:

— During a bicycle demonstration, participants gathered for an unofficial ride through downtown. Police officers were called to an intersection where a large number of cyclists were riding across three lanes of traffic preventing motorists from passing. The officers tried to clear the roadway to allow motorists to pass and the cyclists locked arms and refused to move. As police tried to arrest one of the cyclists, another cyclist grabbed hold of another member of the group to try to avoid being arrested and handcuffed. The police officer used force to separate the two cyclists and placed the cyclist in a police vehicle. The cyclist said that he was not read his rights although he was asked if he wanted to call a lawyer. The cyclist also made a third-party complaint on behalf of another cyclist who he said had excessive force used against him. The commissioner said that there was insufficient evidence for a hearing and declined to take any further action on the file.

— The police arrested several people during the World Naked Bike Ride. They were charged with being naked in public and were later released. A few days later the man contacted police to ask about property he said was missing after the arrest. He wrote about the incident on his blog. A few days after that, the police contacted the man’s boss and pointed out where they thought the man had breached the employer’s code of conduct.

Officer Misconduct: one police officer

Allegations: Violate the privacy of any person

Disposition: Complainant withdrew his complaint before the hearing.

 

— An intoxicated man was causing a disturbance at a residence. He had a make-shift weapon and someone called the police. Before the police arrived the man wounded himself in the chest with a knife and left the area. The police used a canine unit to try to find him and found the man in a field.

When the police found him, it appeared that he had been hiding by laying flat on the ground in standing water. The police had been told that the man had a weapon. To ensure everyone’s safety, the dog was used to help with the arrest and it grabbed the man by the arm. The man said that the use of the dog and the injuries he received from the dog were unnecessary and excessive. The commissioner said that there was insufficient evidence for a hearing and declined to take any further action on the file.

 

— A man and woman were parked and drinking coffee in the car. A police car, who had a report of a possible impaired driver in the area, pulled up to the parked car and shone a light into the vehicle. The police asked the man and woman what they were doing. The couple said they were not doing anything wrong and the police told them they were on private property. When the police asked the man his name, the man gave him a false name. One of the police officers got out of his vehicle and approached the car. The man started recording the conversation on his phone. The officers and the man got into an argument and the man said he did not like being harassed. The other officer got involved in the argument and the man said that the officers were being disrespectful to the woman in the car with him.

The commissioner declined to take further action because there was insufficient evidence to justify a public hearing. The man asked to have a provincial judge review the commissioner’s decision.

DECISION: The judge held that the commissioner had not made an error by not taking further action on this complaint.

 

— A youth took his younger siblings to a store. The youth and one of the siblings went into the store leaving two other siblings in the car. When the youth returned to the car, a plainclothes officer, believing that the vehicle was stolen, removed him from the vehicle with his gun drawn using loud profanity. During this incident the three younger siblings were watching from inside the vehicle and were terrified.

Officer Misconduct: two police officers

Allegations: Abuse of authority by using oppressive or abusive conduct or language

Officer Misconduct: one police officer

Allegations: Abuse of authority by unnecessary violence or excessive force

Disposition: At a pre-hearing appearance, the judge referred the matter back to LERA to hold an informal resolution.

 

— A man was videotaping a conversation between another man and the police about excavation work that was being done by public employees. The man had the permission from the other man who was talking to police, to film the conversation and the excavation. The police asked the man to stop filming because they said the man who was filming was interfering with the police and the public employees. The man asked why they wanted him to stop. When he did not receive an answer, he continued to film. The officer physically directed the man away from the conversation and threatened to put him in handcuffs. The police said he could film the man but not the police or the work that was taking place. The man continued to interview and film the other man. When the man walked further down the street to film a wide shot, the police approached and took his camera and forced him into the police car. They released the man and returned his camera but they ejected and kept the film.

Officer Misconduct: one police officer

Allegations: Abuse of authority by detaining the complaint without lawful authority, failing to inform the complainant of his right to counsel, unlawful seizure of the complainant’s property, arrest without reasonable or probable grounds, and by using oppressive or abusive conduct or language

Disposition: Complainant withdrew his complaint before the hearing.

The commissioner received letters from several citizens’ groups expressing concerns about the adequacy of police policy about the seizure of still and video cameras.

This case (above) as well as the letter from the citizens group prompted the commissioner to write to the chief of police requesting they review their policy on search and seizure of recording equipment. The police agency wrote back advising of steps taken to outline and clarify the guidelines to be followed by its members and the freedom of the public to videotape. These steps included an article in a police agency publication as well as a directive, both of which were distributed to all police members.

 

The full LERA annual report is here.

 

- Bruce Owen / Under the Dome

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