Two weeks after being attacked on Argyle Street, this couple is still waiting for answers from the police | The Coast Halifax

Two weeks after being attacked on Argyle Street, this couple is still waiting for answers from the police

A same-sex couple were attacked with homophobic slurs and then with fists and feet. This is how the investigation has been handled so far.

On June 23, Emma MacLean and her girlfriend Tori were attacked—verbally and physically—by a group of young men in the early morning hours on Argyle Street.

When The Coast reached out to Halifax Regional Police (HRP) to request an interview about the attack, Const. Anne Giffin said: “an assault occurred at approximately 1:50 a.m. on June 23 in the area of the 1600 block of Argyle Street in Halifax. Two people were approached by another group, who were not known to them, and assaulted. The incident remains under investigation.”

Under investigation. Those two words bring up all kinds of images: knocking on doors, viewing legions of security footage, interviewing key witnesses. Working around the clock to bring dangerous offenders to justice.

Let’s break down what we know about HRP’s investigation into the crime so far.

Sunday, June 23

MacLean and her girlfriend Tori were visiting Halifax from PEI to celebrate MacLean’s birthday. After a night out at the bars, they were walking down Argyle Street and when they turned the corner, they came upon a large group of men. MacLean said the men started hitting on her—which she obviously didn’t like and neither did Tori.

It was evident that they were a couple, according to MacLean, and when Tori told them to watch their mouths and not to talk to her girlfriend, they responded with homophobic slurs, including telling Tori “you wish you had a dick.”

“Tori followed them and they went back onto Argyle Street and everyone was chiming in, saying really homophobic things,” said MacLean. “Then one of them pushed her and that’s when they all started taking turns punching her and kicking her.”

MacLean realized soon that Tori needed help, so she said she ran to the scuffle and put one of the men in a chokehold (she’s a rugby player) to stop him from continuing to kick and punch Tori. Her attempt to restrain him was futile and she ended up on the ground, being kicked and punched.

The women are unsure who called the police, but they arrived once the dust had settled a bit. Once on the scene, MacLean said she was shocked at how little the police actually did.

“They didn’t really do anything. They didn’t take pictures of us and our injuries,” said MacLean. “Apparently they aren’t allowed to take pictures on their cell phones anymore; they have to call someone else to come take them, but they didn’t do that.”

MacLean said most of the men involved were able to flee the scene, despite bystanders pointing them out as they wandered away. The one that did stick around to chat to police told them that the women were the ones that attacked them.

The police gave the women a business card and told them to call in the morning if they wanted to file a report.

A few hours later, between 4:30am and 5:30am on Monday morning, MacLean said she called the number on the card to see if she could talk to the cop assigned to their case—Const. Chris McLeod—to check if any arrests had been made. There hadn’t been. He then told her that he was finishing up his last shift and would be off for four days, so he would get back to her on Thursday.

click to enlarge Two weeks after being attacked on Argyle Street, this couple is still waiting for answers from the police (2)
MacLean says police didn't even take pictures of their injuries after they were attacked on Argyle Street.

Monday, June 24

“We were only going to be in Nova Scotia until Monday, so we thought ‘frig it’, we might as well go down to the station and give our statements and hopefully we can get more answers as well,” MacLean told The Coast.

They gave their statements to a different police officer and they were told that these “bar fights” are hard to really investigate.

“They said the reason we sent you home and didn't get your statement on the scene and didn’t make any arrests or anything is because there are just so many bar fights,” said MacLean of her conversation with the officer. “The whole time I was just like, well, this wasn’t a bar fight. We were two women and this was a whole group of men. And we weren’t in a bar.”

In the evening, MacLean’s partner Tori called the police hotline because she wanted to make sure that police had obtained the footage of the fight and to ensure it wouldn’t be deleted. MacLean said dispatch did not put her through to an investigating officer and told her they had been instructed by their sergeant that no information could be given to her and that no other officer could or would investigate during Const. McLeod’s four days off.

“Dispatch responded extremely rudely to her questions and eventually hung up on her,” said MacLean.

Tuesday, June 25

Shocked that three days had gone by with no apparent progress on the investigation and at how poorly the women had been treated, Marisa MacLean—Emma’s mother—wrote emails to the chief of police and several MLAs to let them know what happened and to appeal for help.

The chief of police assured her, Marisa said, that the footage “would be” requested and that they were not handling this as if it were your run-of-the-mill bar fight. She was told it would be dealt with “appropriately.”

Marisa said she was put in touch with the divisional commander to make sure that the whole investigation was dealt with in a timely manner.

Wednesday, June 26

Marisa spoke with the divisional commander who said he had no idea why the investigation would have been put on hold for four days while Const. MacLeod was off. She was told that the case should have been handed off to someone else in his absence.

MacLean took it upon herself to post about the attack on her Facebook and she said she was flooded with responses—including eyewitnesses sharing videos of the attack. She even had people commenting to identify some of the alleged attackers.

“One person even commented on my post saying that they had told the officers that they saw everything and could provide a statement, but they hadn’t been contacted yet,” said MacLean. “I played an FBI agent myself once I had a few names and combed through their mutual friends to try to find any of the others.”

click to enlarge Two weeks after being attacked on Argyle Street, this couple is still waiting for answers from the police (3)
Images taken by witnesses of the alleged attackers after the police arrived on the scene.


Thursday, June 27

At about 6:45pm—Const. McLeod got back to MacLean and asked her to “provide any information you've gathered and I'll do what I can with it,” referring to the eyewitness reports, identifications and videos she got through Facebook.

Friday, June 28

Const. McLeod emailed saying “we've made good progress on positive identifications and have some statements lined up for this weekend to keep digging in.”

Saturday, June 29

MacLean reached out via email to ask if anyone had been brought in for questioning yet or if they had been able to review the footage from any of the businesses in the area. She got no response.

Sunday, June 30

MacLean emailed McLeod again to follow up. “I was worried because I knew that he was about to be on his four days off again and I had heard nothing,” she said. Again, she received no response.

Monday, July 1

Const. McLeod emailed and said “the file is being thoroughly investigated. While I unfortunately cannot share too many details in order to protect the integrity of the investigation, this matter is certainly being prioritized.” He also said that the liquor enforcement units and hate crime units had been engaged and assured her that the investigation would not be frozen for four days. He would keep them updated.

Tuesday, July 2 and Wednesday, July 3

Crickets.

Thursday, July 4

Twelve full days after the attack, HRP posted a news release (below) on their website and on social media platforms. The statement makes no mention of two women being swarmed by a group of men. If you hadn’t heard the details of the crime, its vagueness would make it very easy to ignore.

Victim services and the hate crime unit reached out to offer support to the women, again, almost two weeks after the incident. MacLean said the hate crime unit asked her to retell the story in detail.

Sunday, July 7

As of July 7, the footage and images of the alleged attackers has not been formally released to the public by HRP, but have been shared by a few media outlets and are still on MacLean’s Facebook page.

Neither Emma, Tori, or Marisa have heard a word from Const. McLeod or any other officer involved in the investigation since July 1.

No arrests have been made.