The Halifax Regional Police officer who tased a man on Quinpool Road in 2019 said she felt she had no choice but to arrest him, and she was worried he was going to use a pen as a weapon.
Const. Nicole Green testified during the second day of her Nova Scotia Police Review Board hearing on Thursday, telling the board why she made the decision to arrest Clinton Fraser following a traffic stop. Police accused Fraser of hitting two vehicles with his pickup truck — a construction company’s pickup truck and a small sedan, a Toyota Yaris.
As the Halifax Examiner reported, Fraser told the board on Wednesday he didn’t think he’d hit either vehicle and didn’t know why he was being arrested:
Fraser believed he’d done nothing wrong on Dec. 4, 2019, he told a hearing of the Nova Scotia Police Review Board in Dartmouth. But Halifax Regional Police had pulled him over and ticketed him for changing lanes unsafely.
“Next thing I know I’m getting tased and I don’t remember anything after that,” Fraser testified on Wednesday.
“Only thing I had in my hand was a phone.”
A video of the traffic stop, posted on Twitter by reporter Julia-Simone Rutgers after the incident showed Fraser being tackled to the ground by a group of officers, and one of them using a Taser on him as he screamed in agony. Police spun the event that night, claiming Fraser would be charged with assaulting police. He was never charged, and the traffic ticket was thrown out.
Green, who’s been an HRP officer since January 2015, was found in breach of the code of conduct for officers, docked eight hours pay, and forced to undergo de-escalation training. She’s appealing that finding, and that’s why the Police Review Board hearing was convened.
The constable testified on Thursday that Fraser was agitated and uncooperative with police throughout their interaction, which lasted more than 40 minutes. Green said she saw Fraser scrape the construction truck with his truck, and he later got into an altercation with the construction workers.
By the end of the incident, Green said she felt she had to arrest Fraser.
“I figured if we didn’t place him under arrest for breach of peace that he would either cause further issue and we would have to return at another point, he might go confront the construction workers, or, it was still very busy on the street, I didn’t want him to get out and get hit by a car or something like that,” Green said.
“I made the decision based on everything up until that point to place him under arrest for breach of peace. And then that was when I noticed that he the pen in his right hand.”
The pen isn’t visible in the videos shown to the board. Green claimed he was using it in his truck to record the officers’ names, and then stepped out of the truck gripping it in his hand.
“The immediate thing I thought of was that it could be used as a weapon, and why would he get out of the truck with it in his hand?” Green said.
Officers didn’t collect the pen as evidence after the incident, and Green said it “exploded” in the struggle.
“It was one of those clear plastic pens,” she said. “So I grabbed hold of his hand when it’s still in his hand and I squeezed and kind of like turned and the pen exploded into pieces and all the ink from the pen was all over my hands.”
The pieces ended up on the ground and on the cover over the box of Fraser’s truck, Green said.
Under cross examination by HRM lawyer Ted Murphy, Green conceded that Fraser wasn’t uncooperative during the more than 20 minutes he sat in his truck waiting for police to tell him whether he was at fault for the alleged collisions.
During that time, police let the driver and passenger of the Toyota Yaris — who they witnessed hitting the hood of Fraser’s truck — leave the scene. That’s because the young couple told police they were afraid Fraser would follow them. They weren’t ticketed.
Murphy also argued Green’s stated reason for arresting Fraser, that she thought she’d end up called back to the scene, didn’t make sense. She had earlier testified that it wasn’t her practice to drive away from a traffic stop before the subject did.
He also suggested to Green that she escalated the situation be arresting Fraser. She disagreed, saying she felt the arrest served to de-escalate the situation. To recap, three officers tackled Fraser to the ground and tased him before getting the cuffs on him.
Also on Thursday, the board heard testimony from Const. Josh Desmond.
Having been hired in October 2019, he had less than two months experience on the job — 21 shifts, as he characterized it — when he and Green, his training officer, pulled Fraser over on Quinpool Road. Fraser originally filed a complaint against Desmond, too, and it was “resolved.”
Desmond said he saw Fraser’s truck strike the Toyota Yaris, although under cross examination, he allowed that his view was partially obstructed by a cube van.
The officer described Fraser as “worked up,” and he was the one who approach Fraser at the end of the traffic stop, starting the series of events that led to his arrest.
Desmond tried to put Fraser in a neck restraint but failed, and he, Green, and another officer were able to tackle him to the ground, where Green tased him and got the handcuffs on.
For Desmond, the takedown was a “success.”
“No one got hit by a car, we didn’t go into oncoming traffic, and we were able to get him in handcuffs a short time later with no major injuries,” Desmond said.
Asked whether he saw the pen after the arrest, Desmond said he didn’t, but he saw ink on Green’s hands. Asked whether a pen was seized as evidence, he said no.
The hearing is scheduled to continue on Friday, when Murphy is expected to continue cross examining Green. After her testimony is complete, lawyers will make written arguments to the board, which will reserve its decision.