A court case pitting the testimony of three Nunavut RCMP police officers against the charter rights of a 25-year-old Iqaluit resident over missing evidence, the use of pepper spray and a restraint chair will resume in September.
Michael Naglingniq is facing charges of uttering death threats to two police officers and breach of probation after he was arrested June 17, 2013 after a night of drinking.
His defence lawyer, Tamara Fairchild, is arguing the charges should be stayed as a result of abuses to Naglingniq’s charter rights following his arrest.
Naglingniq began drinking Sunday with his family at his parent’s house. On Monday, he went over to his sister’s home in the Legoland neighbourhood. Sometime around 6 p.m. he began fighting with his brother.
Police were called and Naglingniq was placed under arrest, put in the back of a police truck and driven to the station.
On the way there, two police officers testified Naglingniq began kicking and head-butting the divider, yelling that he was going to get a rifle and shoot one of the officers.
The police told him to stop, but testified before Judge Earl Johnson that he continued.
What happened next is disputed by the defence.
According to police testimony, on the way to the station, the officers pulled over, opened the back door and pepper-sprayed Naglingniq. They say it happened after Naglingniq managed to get his hands in front of his body while in handcuffs and continually kicked the divider between the front and back seats of the truck, even after being warned to stop.
But Naglingniq testified he did not recall being pepper-sprayed on the way to the police station. Rather, he says he was pepper-sprayed while he was strapped to a restraint chair after being placed in a jail cell.
Held in restraint chair for more than 2 hours
According to the police, when Naglingniq arrived at the station, he was checked in and placed in a cell. Officers testified he was given the opportunity to wash off the pepper spray deployed on the way to the station. Instead, police testify Naglingniq continued yelling and began kicking the cell door.
Officers decided to place Naglingniq in a restraint chair, a device used when police belive someone can cause personal harm or harm to themselves.
During cross examination by Crown lawyer Barry McLaren, Naglingniq remained adamant he was pepper-sprayed while strapped to the restraint chair.
‘Form of torture’
According to the log book of a jail guard on duty that night, Naglingniq spent two hours and forty-one minutes in the restraint chair.
The defence argued that according to RCMP policy, prisoners who remain in a restraint chair for more than two hours are required to have medical attention, though none was offered to Naglingniq.
The lack of medical treatment and the act of being pepper-sprayed while strapped to a restraint chair amounted to what Fairchild called “a form of torture” and a breach of his charter rights against cruel and unusual punishment.
A video recording of the jail cell has since been overwritten and the arresting officer did not write down notes of the evening until seven-and-a-half months later.
The defence argues RCMP policy was not properly followed in keeping proper notes and in the handling of the restraint chair and argues the charges against Naglingniq should be stayed.
The trial resumes September 18.
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