Investigation calls force used by Red Deer Sheriff 'excessive'
Published Wednesday, February 15, 2012 6:09PM MST
A sheriff at the courthouse in Red Deer is no longer working for the Solicitor General's office, after it was found his actions in a confrontation with a man with serious medical issues, were not appropriate.
On December 9, 2011, Bill Berry entered the Red Deer courthouse through the 'Exit' door to pay a traffic ticket, bypassing security.
Afterward, Berry blamed his misstep on signs inside the building, calling them misleading.
The sheriff on duty at the time, Thomas Bounds, approached him, and told him to go back through security.
Seconds later, Bounds attempted to forcibly remove him.
Berry is a throat cancer survivor, he breathes through a tube – and can't speak or hear.
At one point in the confrontation, Berry's breathing tube became dislodged, and he went into convulsions on the floor, a few moments later another sheriff re-inserted it.
The entire incident was captured by surveillance cameras in the courthouse.
"It's never a positive thing when you see someone who apparently has been injured," Solicitor General Jonathan Denis said. "I'm happy that he wasn't seriously injured."
Berry filed a complaint following the incident, and the Solicitor General's office investigated.
According to the investigation report, Berry tried to communicate to the sheriff that he couldn't hear, or speak, before the sheriff's actions became more forceful.
The Office of the Solicitor General found obvious indications of Berry's medical condition should have been a factor in Bounds' response.
An excerpt from the report states:
Sheriff Bounds' use and level of force against Mr. Berry was unjustified, excessive, led directly to Mr. Berry's stoma tube being dislodged, and the resulting serious medical emergency.
Denis said the sheriff in question is no longer employed by his office.
"What I can tell you is that he is no longer employed by the Solicitor General," Denis said. "I can tell you that he is no longer a peace officer."
Berry told CTV News, through e-mail, that he wants the sheriff, or whoever trained him, held accountable for the way he was treated that day.
He said he is also considering filing a lawsuit.
With files from Bill Fortier