RCMP use Taser on disabled veteran with electronic surgical implant
'If you Tase me, I may die. I have an implant,' Bruce Webb told Nova Scotia RCMP in security footage
A disabled veteran from Lunenburg County says an encounter with RCMP in February left him so traumatized he's scared to open his front door.
"I'm staring out the windows now. If the wind blows, I jump," says Bruce Webb, who lives with his fiancée Lori Fuller above the Purple Leprechaun Roadhouse, a restaurant she owns in Bayport, N.S.
Webb, 53, faces charges of assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest, but believes he was the victim in a late night encounter with police on Feb. 28.
Webb says when the Purple Leprechaun Roadhouse is closed, he uses the space as a living room.
He says he'd fallen asleep watching TV in an assisted-lift chair when RCMP arrived.
Video from security cameras inside the restaurant show RCMP officers banging on doors and shining lights through the windows. It was the second time that night police had been at the location.
Webb says after the first police visit, he'd noticed a P.A. speaker was missing from the restaurant's vestibule. He said he called 911 to inquire if police had taken it, and to ask for its return.
But RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jennifer Clarke says it went beyond that.
"Multiple 911 calls were received from the property. Police officers attended to make a lawful arrest of that individual," she said.
Clarke says she can't elaborate on the circumstances of the arrest because the matter is before the courts.
Security video shows Webb refusing to let police in while blues music blares in the empty restaurant.
Webb tells the officer he's calling 911. The officer then forces his way in by breaking down the door. There's an immediate physical confrontation.
'If you Tase me, I may die'
The video shows the officer knocking a telephone out of Webb's hand. Webb then swings his right arm, in an apparent attempt to strike the officer.
The officer knocks Webb to the ground and pulls out his conductive energy weapon, known as a Taser.
"If you Tase me, I may die. I have an implant," Webb told the officer in the tape.
Webb says he was scared because of an electronic implant in his abdomen that's connected by electrodes to his spine.
The device helps mitigate severe chronic pain he suffers from a leg injury that occurred while playing sports in the military.
"I didn't know where they were going to shoot me. I didn't know anything," he said.
Webb has a medical marijuana licence, and his cannabis prescription is paid for by Veterans Canada. Webb also says Veterans Affairs paid to install a two-storey lift to help him reach the second-floor apartment where he lives.
He says his disability means he's no risk to the officers. "I have chronic pain. I can't even sit on the floor, let alone be beat around," he said.
In the security footage, the officer continues to yell at Webb as he sits on the floor in front of him, telling him to lay flat on his stomach as two more RCMP members enter.
Officer blocks video camera
One of the officers tells him he is under arrest citing "the Involuntary Psychiatric Act."
A struggle between Webb and the officers continues. As Webb backs away in a seated position, he's shot with the Taser.
"I thought my chest was going to explode. I was just expecting it go 'boom.' That's what it kind of felt like," Webb said.
The video shows Webb lying on the floor for 14 minutes with his hands cuffed behind him, moaning, shouting and weeping.
Webb says officers didn't respond to repeated requests for heart medication.
During this time, one of the officers notices one of three security cameras and twists it to face the wall.
SIRT reviewing case
The RCMP maintain officers behaved correctly throughout the arrest, including the use of a conductive energy weapon.
"What you're seeing on YouTube, the videos that are out there, they're just a small portion of their interactions with this individual," said Clarke.
Webb's fiancée, Lori Fuller, says she can hardly bear to watch the security footage.
"Of course I'd like to see all of the charges dropped. I'd like to see an apology — and I'd like to see something put into place so it can't happen again," she said.
Nova Scotia's Serious Incident Response Team is reviewing the YouTube footage to determine if an investigation of the incident is in the public interest. A decision would take several days, SIRT director Ronald MacDonald said.
Webb charged with assaulting cop
Fuller says the restaurant hasn't re-opened since the incident.
"The business is totally closed, I handed in my liquor licence and I'm not renewing my business licence," said Fuller.
Webb will appear in court April 27 for election and plea.
He has been charged with assaulting a peace officer, mischief and resisting and obstructing a peace officer.
A spokesperson for Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service says Webb had no previous criminal record.
With files from Paul Palmeter and Rachel Ward