An investigation into a 2019 Lethbridge Police Service call that left a 12-year-old with a missing tooth and stitches found no wrong-doing on the part of the officers involved.
According to a report from the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), officers responded to two domestic disturbance calls in the same residence early in the morning on Nov. 16, 2019.
“The officers that initially attended subsequently determined that the name provided by the complainant was not real. Her real identity was determined through further computer queries,” the reports says. “It was also determined that she had warrants outstanding for her arrest.”
The second call claimed the woman who had outstanding warrants stole a cell phone and broke a window.
“(the officer) approached (the mother) and asked for her name. (she) initially gave the same false name as she had previously when LPS officers had attended earlier. (The officer) told her that he knew this was not her correct name. He told her that he knew her real name and that she had outstanding arrest warrants,” the report says.
The woman struggled with officers and ran back into her home when the officer attempted to arrest her. The report says the officer grabbed her by the shirt and she fell into the entryway of the home where her three children were.
During the struggle with officers, a playpen with an eight-month-old baby in it was knocked over. According to the report, the 12-year-old daughter jumped onto one of the officers and punched him in the shoulder, trying to get him off her mother. He was holding the mother down with his body weight while kneeling beside her when this happened and the report says he pushed the 12-year-old away.
“(The child) came at the officers a second time. When she was close to the melee (she) got hit in the face area. (the officer) managed to get one handcuff on (the mother),” the report says. “(The child) was noticed to have a cut to her chin and a chipped tooth. EMS was called and (she) was taken to the hospital where she received a couple of stitches. The chipped tooth was determined to be non-repairable so it was removed,” the report says.
The report concluded the officers involved were “lawfully placed and acting properly in the execution of their duties. There is no evidence to support any belief that they engaged in any unlawful or unreasonable conduct that would give rise to an offence.”
In its analysis, ASIRT says the child was close to the officer as he was struggling to control the mother. When the child came back a second time, the officer put his hand out to “check” her back, an open handed push intended to create distance.
“While (the officer) indicated in his report that he did not think his check with his handcuffs in his hand made contact with (the child), the photographs support that they did do so. While the injuries (specifically the loss of a tooth) that resulted from this were serious, they were the result of a lawful use of force,” the reports says.