Winnipeg police probing allegations officers took photo of intoxicated man on bench
Winnipeg police are looking into allegations a Winnipeg police officer may have taken a photo of an intoxicated man on a bench.
The probe comes after a Manitoba man posted a photo of paramedics and police officers with a man on a bench at Grant Avenue and Stafford Street Friday, which was widely shared on social media.
According to Justin Highway, who said he was stopped at a red light for about a minute, it appeared a female police officer holding a phone may have taken a photo of the man on the bench with one of her colleagues.
“Just standing around there, laughing away there, I saw that lady cop holding her phone, I believe she was trying to take a picture,” said Highway, in a phone call with CTV News.
“They shouldn't be doing that, there wasn't an ambulance around at that time."
"One guy was saying ‘I don't think you'll be doing anything sometime this weekend’ and he was laughing away."
The City of Winnipeg sent a statement to CTV News:
“WFPS staff spent approximately 90 minutes caring for this individual while awaiting WPS transport. At the point this photo was taken, WFPS staff were providing information to WPS, while the individual was resting his head on the shoulder of one of our WFPS members. We can assure you that this individual was treated in a respectful and professional manner at all times."
Whether officer took photo of man on bench not determined: police
Const. Rob Carver said Monday there were two in-uniform police officers in the photo and first responders on the scene ultimately determined the man on the bench was intoxicated.
“That person according to the intoxicated persons detention act of Manitoba needs to be lodged at the Main Street Project and the only people who can do that is our police officers,” said Carver.
“So Winnipeg Fire Paramedic has to sit there and wait until our officers come or cadets are able to take custody of that person and lodge them safely at Main Street Project.”
Carver said police have not determined if the officer on scene took a photo of the man on the bench, but have concluded the first responders were exchanging critical information at the time Highway took his photo.
“When did you arrive, what did you see, find out if the person medically cleared, and take notes before taking the person to Main Street Project. That’s what that what was happening when the photo was taken,” said Carver.
Carver said supervisors of the officers involved are looking into allegations by connecting with them.
“Part of this includes getting in touch with the man that was on the bench. I don’t have access to that information yet,” he said.
Carver said he would try and come forward with information and details about the incident as soon as possible.
“Details from our own officers’ actions, we are going to make sure nothing our officers did was viewed as disrespectful,” he said.
Don’t rush to judgement: police
Carver also talked about what it takes to work with some people who are agitated or intoxicated.
He said sometimes officers will do things to help make a person feel comfortable, which can be misperceived by a person not involved in the situation.
Carver used an example of an officer who mimicked marching with a woman. He said the woman found the officers’ actions amusing which helped ease the situation.
Carver cautioned people looking photos not make a snap decision about what is transpiring between first responders and the people they are in contact with.
“It’s easy to judge from an outside standpoint and look at it and go ‘Well that was inappropriate,’ might be inappropriate if you don’t know what’s going on, but it might be absolutely not only appropriate, but perfect in terms of getting that person to where they need to be safely and dealing with them in a way that makes them feel comfortable.”