TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Anthony Blais is arrested after a high-speed chase through Brandon in early January. Blais says that later, a police officer stabbed him in the leg with a drill bit.
The city’s police chief confirms that the force has launched an internal investigation into allegations that a police officer assaulted an arrestee at the city police station.
Brandon Police Service Chief Ian Grant said the public needs to be assured that such allegations are taken seriously.
"I have complete confidence in our process, the processes that we use to complete such investigations — that there will be a thorough, complete and professional investigation that will be conducted," Grant said during an interview on Friday.
Police wouldn’t get into details of the allegations, citing the need to protect the integrity of the investigation.
Anthony Paul Blais says a police officer stabbed him in the leg with a drill bit that was found in his pocket during a search.
Blais, who was arrested on Jan. 2 following a dramatic police pursuit in the city, outlined the following allegations during a phone call from the Brandon jail where he’s being held.
They haven’t been proven in court.
Blais says that following his arrest, he was taken to the Brandon police station where he was placed in a cell and searched.
He says he believes three officers were involved in the search.
He was thrown face down on the bunk, or cement slab, and one officer held his head in place while another held his legs.
They took off his boots, socks, coat and sweater and reshackled him. He was then patted down.
Blais says he didn’t realize the spade-style drill bit — which features a sharp point — was in his back pocket.
When one officer found it, he asked Blais why he hadn’t told him about it and — similar to the way in which someone may use their finger to emphasize a point they’re making — the officer poked Blais on the leg with the drill bit.
Blais said he didn’t notice that he was injured, at first. He laid down and then realized his leg was throbbing and spotted blood on the bench.
He said that when another officer came to take him to the Brandon jail, he told that officer that one of his colleagues had stabbed him. However, he wasn’t offered medical assistance.
Blais said he reported the incident at the Brandon jail when asked if he had any concerns. There, he found a small hole in his leg.
Whether the injury was made by accident or not, Blais said that’s not the point.
"I was injured and mistreated," he said.
Blais lodged a formal complaint to the province’s Law Enforcement Review Agency on March 26. The agency handles investigations into the conduct of officers, including excessive force complaints, but not criminal allegations against officers.
Currently, criminal investigations are referred to the police force involved for an internal investigation.
Both LERA and the BPS have open investigations into the matter; however, the criminal investigation by police takes priority.
Blais said that he’s also concerned because police have told him that their computer hard drives were reformatted and evidence of the incident may have been lost.
However, he noted that a BPS investigator did seize his blood-covered jeans, which had a hole in them, and asked him to sign a medical release form. The drill bit has also been seized.
Blais said he has also given statements to police and they took photos of his leg.
Grant confirmed that he was informed in mid-March that Blais had made a complaint that he was assaulted by a BPS officer.
The chief said he ordered an investigation which continues under the supervision of a BPS inspector.
The results will be forwarded to the province’s director of public prosecutions to decide whether charges should be laid against the officer or anyone else who may have been involved.
At this point, the chief said, no officers have been placed on alternate duty or suspended with pay due to the allegations.
Beyond that, Grant said it would be inappropriate for any member of the force to comment on an ongoing criminal investigation. Officers don’t want to compromise the investigation, he said.
Police will be in a position to comment further once the matter is done — whether charges are laid or not.
"At the appropriate time, we will deliver a comment with regards to the outcome of the investigation," Grant said.
» Twitter: @IanHitchen
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 10, 2014