Today was the second day of the Nova Scotia Police Review Board hearing where Halifax Regional Police constable Nicole Green is attempting to clear her name. Green made a violent arrest on Quinpool Road in December 2019, tasering a man we are calling Fred, and an HRP investigation determined she used inappropriate force, earning Green a slap on the wrist. Hoping the provincial review board will overturn that “punishment,” on Wednesday at a Best Western in Dartmouth, Green took the stand to give her side of the story, and as a result the details from yesterday’s testimony became clearer.
On the afternoon of Dec. 14, 2019 Green was driving along Quinpool in a police car with a rookie partner, constable Joshua Desmond, who had less than three months on the force at the time. She was his training officer. Desmond, who testified in the morning, and Green, whose testimony was in the afternoon, were mostly establishing what exactly happened, according to them. Further questioning from lawyers—theirs and the city’s—delved into what the two officers were thinking on the day.
In today’s hearing, the board also learned more about the other people whose cars were hit by Fred’s truck. In addition to the truck, two vehicles were involved in the incident leading up to Green’s tasering of Fred.
The first was a blue Toyota Yaris. Desmond testified that as he and Green were driving down Quinpool, they saw Fred’s truck drift wide when he turned from Monastery Lane onto Quinpool; so wide that he hit the Yaris going the same direction. The female passenger of the Yaris, while the car was still being driven, leaned out of her car with most of her upper body and smacked the hood of Fred’s truck.
As everyone parked and got out of their vehicles, Fred and the Yaris people yelled at each other and were exchanging heated words and gestures. The cops told the Yaris passengers to get back in their car; they did, but then got out again. Even though the Yaris folks were comfortable enough to disregard police instructions, Desmond testified the passengers of the Yaris were scared Fred would follow them and cause “further havoc.” They were allowed to leave.
The second vehicle was a white Frontline construction pickup truck that Green testified Fred also clipped while merging onto Quinpool. The construction workers also were yelling at Fred, and told to stay by their vehicle by police, testified Desmond. They also were allowed to leave before Fred. Although at least one construction worker appears to have stayed behind, because Green and Desmond both testified they were certain that if they left, Fred would go confront the construction workers. And one of the construction workers appears to have “helped” in the arrest, giving a cop a pair of handcuffs.
At no point in Green or Desmond’s testimony did they describe anyone else’s yelling or antagonistic behaviour as heated, agitated, worked up, angry or loud. They did, however, repeatedly describe Fred’s behaviour as all of those things. It is possible only Fred is repeatedly described in this way because Green does not need to justify or explain how she perceived the people she did not taze that day. But she does need to justify why she tazed Fred.
At no point in Green or Desmond’s testimony did they describe anyone else’s yelling or antagonistic behaviour as heated, agitated, worked up, angry or loud. They did, however, repeatedly describe Fred’s behaviour as all of those things.
In Green and Desmond’s testimony they make it very clear they believed Fred was a threat, and everyone else must be protected from him. It is less clear from their testimony why the other people acting the same way were not considered a threat. It’s hard to say for sure why that is, but it’s qwhite easy to make an assumption.
At one point in Green’s cross examination, her lawyer, Brian Bailey, made an objection to one of HRM lawyer Ted Murphy’s questions. The objection forced Murphy to explain the argument the city is making in this case. Murphy’s argument is that the arrest was unlawful, and therefore any use of force is also unlawful.
Here’s how that argument works. Green testified that she and the other officers who later arrived on scene were equipped to handle anything that could happen with Fred. She also testified that she and the other officers were planning on staying on scene until Fred left. Then she testified that Fred had to be arrested because “he undoubtedly would have” gone to confront the construction workers. But most of the construction workers had already left, and Green said she didn’t know if the ones who were left were the same ones who had been arguing with Fred.
In other words, Green was equipped to handle Fred if he acted up, and Green wasn't planning on leaving just in case Fred did act up. So then why did she need to arrest him to prevent something that she was already planning to prevent without arresting him? On top of that, how did she know Fred "undoubtedly would" confront the antagonistic construction workers when she didn't know if they were still around?
In Green's testimony it came up that she believed Fred intended to attack officers with a weapon, a pen. She said that she felt threatened when Fred, who is 6'3", raised the pen above his head. But in constable Desmond's testimony, Fred was raising his hand to point up Quinpool to where the Yaris was parked before it was allowed to leave. Green said the pen broke when she grabbed Fred’s hand to arrest him, and in breaking left an ink stain on her hand. In Fred's testimony yesterday, he said his hand was empty, and there were no questions about ink on his hand. The alleged pen, or any fragment of the allegedly broken pen, was not recovered.
Green's testimony will continue tomorrow morning, followed by closing arguments from the lawyers.