Torbay, Newfoundland, Canada — An officer from the Canadian Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is in the hot seat again nearly six years after she was first reprimanded for the arrest of a teen with autism— for a similar case.
RNC Const. Lisa Harris was first reprimanded in 2009 after arresting a teen with autism in the streets of Mount Pearl, whom she and her then-partner mistakenly thought was a drunk.
The teen spent the night in jail was not allowed to call his mother— who only found out about his arrest after placing a 911 call the following morning to report her son missing.
Const. Harris was suspended without pay as a punishment for her actions, but, years later, Judge James Walsh was forced to tell the police officer that she hasn’t learned from her past.
In May of 2013 Const. Harris and another officer were called to respond to a 911 call which the officers believed was a ‘domestic situation’. When the officers arrived at the scene they found a man on the floor face-down, with two women sitting on top of him. Officer Harris and her partner assumed that the man was an assailant and immediately took over efforts to restrain him, telling him to “f–k off” and threatening to use pepper spray on him.
The officers later on proceeded to charge the man with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest, among others.
Unknown to Harris and her partner, the person who called 911 did not hang up, and the entire incident was captured on tape.
It would later on appear that the police officers failed to assess the situation properly, and were not able to correctly identify that the situation they had in hand was in fact a mental crisis situation.
In a decision related to the 2013 Torbay case, Judge Walsh wrote:
“It is very clear from the recording played in evidence that [he] was hysterical and in mental health crisis at the time… Her defiance towards the adjudicator’s findings and her lack of respect for the policy and procedures manual is shocking… It is quite clear that Const. Harris has not learned from her experience before the Public Complaints Commission.”
The judge found the man—- whom Const. Harris and her partner charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer— not guilty, but the Crown is appealing that decision.
In an interview with CBC, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Chief William Janes declined to comment on the case, citing that the Crown’s appeal is still pending.
RNC spokesperson Const. Steve Curnew confirmed, however, that Const. Harris is still working for the RNC.
Contributed by Althea Estrella Violeta
Source: Glenn Payette on CBC News Newfoundland & Labrador: RNC officer in Dane Spurrell autism case criticized again