CITY police have issued a public apology after an officer snapped a photo of a man who appears to be unconscious and resting his head on the shoulder of a Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service employee.
A separate photo of the incident, taken by a passerby and posted Friday on social media, shows a WFPS employee seated on a bus bench appearing to pose with the man, while other first responders, including two police officers, stand nearby.
"I want to confirm that our investigation has concluded that a cellphone was used by one of the police officers to take a photo at the scene," Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Rob Carver told reporters at a news conference Wednesday.
"We apologize to this individual. We know the citizens of Winnipeg expect us to treat everyone with dignity and respect, and they deserve nothing less."
The WFPS was called to the scene last week to determine whether the man was in medical distress or intoxicated, police had said. Under the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act of Manitoba, a person who is intoxicated in public and needs safe lodging has to be transported to Main Street Project by Winnipeg police officers or cadets.
First responders spent 90 minutes caring for the man until police arrived, officials said.
Police opened an investigation after it was reported one of the officers on the scene took a photo of the man on the bench, his head on the shoulder of a WFPS employee.
On Saturday, the City of Winnipeg issued a statement emphasizing the professionalism of its first responders, after the bystander’s photo circulating on social media cast staff in an "unbecoming" light.
On Monday, Carver said police supervisors were connecting with the officers in question.
On Wednesday, he said police had met with the individual in the photo, who was transported to Main Street Project.
"I know he’s been spoken to specifically," Carver said, unable to say if officials offered the man a personal apology. "I don’t know the details of that conversation.
"It’s not a criminal matter, so any discussions with him really aren’t public."
Carver didn’t go into detail about any consequences the officer who took the photo might face. Under WPS rules and regulations, such action would be considered improper, he said.
"I think everyone is satisfied with where this has ended up."
However, a city spokesperson said Wednesday it is still investigating the incident. An email to the Free Press said "new information has come to light" and an investigation continues "following established City of Winnipeg human resources processes."
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