Halifax man charged with firearm, drug offences related to incident caught on video
Police still searching for man seen in video with officer
A Halifax man has been charged with several firearm and drug trafficking offences related to an incident at an apartment building that was caught on camera and spread on social media.
Halifax Regional Police responded to a weapons complaint Friday around 6 p.m. AT in the 200 block of Wentworth Drive in the city's Rockingham area.
Officers located four men — one with non-life-threatening injuries — in two vehicles, police said in a news release.
A loaded handgun and approximately a kilogram of crack cocaine were seized.
Three of the men were arrested while the fourth man started to flee, which led to the incident caught on video. As of Monday afternoon, the man in the video had not been located.
The video, which appears to have been taken by another party from the balcony of a building, shows the fourth man walking away from an officer with his hands up. The officer and the man walk around a pickup truck in a parking lot.
WARNING | This video contains graphic language:
The audio on the 28-second video is poor, but at around the eight-second mark, the officer — whose gun is pointed at the man — is heard saying something that sounds like, "I will fill you full of f--king lead."
Someone in the room where the video is recorded appears to repeat what the officer said, saying, "I'll fill you with lead."
CBC News has not confirmed who recorded the video.
Video shared online
The officer orders the man to stop, but he doesn't. At the 19-second mark, the man drops his arms and sprints around the apartment building, as the officer appears to talk on a two-way radio. In the video, the officer does not fire or give chase.
The video was shared widely on social media over the weekend and sparked conversations about racial profiling among police officers.
Although the man in the video has not been identified, several community activists say he is Black.
"I was scared that I was going to witness a murder after hearing the words," said Quentrel Provo, the CEO of Stop the Violence, Spread the Love.
Provo said those words shouldn't have been spoken by a police officer, regardless of the situation.
"There has to be consequences for him saying that because it doesn't matter what situation or what is going on or what kind of call you're getting called to, as a police officer, those words should not be uttered," he said.
"They're there to serve and to protect. I should not fear for my life being around a police officer if they're there to serve and protect the community."
Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella said the comments that appear to have been made by the officer were "unacceptable," and confirmed the officer has been placed on administrative duties pending an investigation into the incident.
He added the force is committed to a full investigation, which will examine what led to the incident and what was said and in what context.
Premier calls language 'disgusting'
Premier Iain Rankin condemned the language in the video when asked about the situation Monday by reporters.
"What I heard on the video, personally I think it's disgusting, but I'm going to let that review take place and I expect Halifax police to take corrective action," he said.
Rankin said the province isn't involved in the investigation, but he was expected to speak with Justice Minister Randy Delorey about the incident later in the day.
"If there's a role for us, we'll look at that," he said. "But right now, I have to respect the law and the authority in this matter."
Group calls for officer's dismissal
GameChangers902, a Halifax-based advocacy group, issued a statement calling the incident a racially motivated act of police misconduct.
The statement calls for the officer in the video to be immediately dismissed, saying anything less "will further erode public trust of the Halifax Regional Police and will be a display of complacency in the matter."
The organization is also calling for the Serious Incident Response Team — the province's independent police watchdog — to investigate the actions of the officer involved, and for Halifax Regional Police to brief the public on what occurred.
Delorey should "intervene to ensure due process in a timely and transparent manner," the statement said.
Police watchdog not investigating
Felix Cacchione, director of the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT), said Tuesday they will not be investigating because the incident does not meet their mandate.
They have so far received three requests from the public to look into the incident: one from GameChangers902 and two from individual people.
But Cacchione said the officer involved did not fire his weapon, and police have a lawful excuse to point a firearm in the course of their duties.
He also said the man who had the gun pointed at him, and who has not yet been found, has not filed a complaint with SIRT.
Although the public also raised concerns about the officer's comments, Cacchione said "poor language" alone does not meet their mandate as a serious incident, and is not described in the Police Act legislation which guides SIRT.
Disciplinary matters around this type of behaviour would be addressed by Halifax police internally, Cacchione said.
He said those who filed complaints with SIRT have been directed to take their concerns to the provincial Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner or the municipality's Professional Standards Office.
Police union defends officer
The head of the union representing officers with the force said he believes the officer acted appropriately in what was "a dangerous, dangerous situation."
Sgt. Dean Steinburg, the president of the Halifax Regional Police Association, said he has spoken with the officer and has the "benefit" of having more context about the situation, but he's unauthorized to provide that information to the public.
He said that responsibility is on the chief, who he believes rushed to judgment of the officer after the video was shared online.
"I can't understand why the chief ... has not come out to reassure the public that this officer was intervening in a very violent and dangerous situation and he was there by himself and he did a commendable job," Steinburg said.
"And I think that's what will ultimately come out in the investigation."
Steinburg said he understands why the comments made in video are concerning, but he doesn't believe they were racially motivated. He said the officer acted in accordance with his training, adding there are reasons why the type of language was used.
"We teach officers that it's very, very important that you make sure people understand how serious you are in something this serious, because often that will actually, in itself, contain the violence," he said.
Man faces multiple charges
Meanwhile, police said two of the three men who were arrested Friday, including the injured man, were released without charges a short time later. The injured man declined medical treatment, police said.
The third man, Derrick Coryaunt Allison, 30, was scheduled to appear in Halifax provincial court Monday on charges, including:
- Possession of a weapon dangerous to the public.
- Carrying a concealed weapon.
- Possession of a prohibited weapon.
- Possession of a prohibited firearm knowing it is unauthorized.
- Unauthorized possession in motor vehicle.
- Possession of a prohibited firearm with ammunition.
- Possession of a firearm contrary to a court order.
- Possession of a controlled substance.
- Possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.
With files from Blair Sanderson, Preston Mulligan, Haley Ryan