Woman alleges Halifax police officer choked her during arrest
Constable was disciplined for incident, but punishment was rescinded
November 15, 2022, 5:35 pm ASTLast Updated: November 15, 2022, 5:35 pm
A woman who claims she was choked during her arrest is appealing a decision by Halifax Regional Police to rescind discipline of one of its officers.
Susan Doman represented herself in the hearings before the Nova Scotia Police Review Board beginning Monday against Const. Jason Wilson.
Doman was arrested on April 28, 2021. She filed a complaint on May 11, 2021. Wilson was disciplined by Halifax police, according to a decision dated Feb. 2, 2022.
The Signal obtained a copy of that decision.
In the decision, Supt. Derrick Boyd, the delegated disciplinary authority for Halifax Regional Police, said “I do find that [Constable] Jason Wilson used excessive force when dealing with Ms. Doman.”
Boyd referenced a report by Halifax police’s use of force expert, Sgt. Tony Croft. Boyd’s decision states that Croft believed “there were other force options available and that the force that [Wilson] used on Ms. Doman was aggressive and excessive in nature and could have resulted in Ms. Doman being seriously injured.”
Boyd’s statement said, “I believe that [Constable] Wilson’s actions of grabbing Ms. Doman’s throat with one or two hands and dropping her to the ground was not required under these circumstances.”
Board chair Jean McKenna said during Monday’s hearing that at one point Halifax police and Wilson reached an agreement to rescind his discipline.
The reasons behind this decision remain unclear. The two lawyers present at the hearing, David Bright, representing Wilson, and Andrew Gough, representing Halifax Regional Police, both declined to comment.
Doman filed a complaint on the decision to rescind Wilson’s discipline. The Police Review Board hearings are her chance to make her case.
In an interview with The Signal, Doman said that on the night of the incident she was at a friend’s apartment and she received a call from a police officer who wanted to speak with her, so she gave her location.
The witness called on Monday by Doman was Const. Kaven Daneault, who was one of the first two officers on the scene. Daneault said during the hearing that he and the other officer planned to arrest Doman and bring her into the station for processing before she would be released.
Daneault said he was invited into the apartment. He said Doman’s friend, Saad Khory, was helping attempt to convince Doman to go with the officers. Daneault said that he smelled alcohol on Doman’s breath, but officers did not conduct any testing.
Daneault said the second officer put her hands on Doman to handcuff her, but Doman “started to get very agitated … out of control.”
“She was doing everything to not co-operate with us,” Daneault said. He said he allowed her to smoke a cigarette in hopes that she would calm down.
At one point Daneault called for backup. Six officers were then at the scene, including Wilson.
“When someone is agitated, regardless of their sex or gender, we don’t take the chance to have anyone hurt. The more members we have to control a person … the less chance that person has to get injured,” Daneault said.
Daneault said he was escorting Doman to the front door from behind when he heard Wilson, who he said was in front of her, tell Doman not to spit on him. Daneault said that Wilson placed his hands on her head to turn it away as a deflection. Both lost balance and fell down, and Daneault said that Wilson placed his hand behind Doman’s head to cushion the fall.
“Things happened very fast, and it’s hard to determine how you fell on the ground,” Daneault said.
In an interview during a break in proceedings, Doman said that Wilson was on top of her on the ground for about a minute and had to be pulled off by the other officers.
Daneault said in Monday’s hearing that Wilson fell to the ground next to Doman for a short time and that he did not have to be restrained by others.
On Tuesday, Doman had Const. Olivier Duquet-Perron, another officer who was present, testify.
Duquet-Perron said that the officers were trying to de-escalate the situation, and echoed Daneault’s belief that Doman was intoxicated during the incident.
In the original decision disciplining Const. Wilson, Boyd wrote that Const. Duquet-Perron stated that “Wilson became agitated with Ms. Doman and claimed that she was about to spit on him when he put both his hands around her throat and picked her up and dropped her to the floor.”
Boyd went on to say that Wilson stated that Doman “did not hit her head on the floor, but according to Mr. Khory and [Constable] Duquet-Perron, her head hit the floor and with enough force to break a piece of molding on the floor.”
When Doman read part of this report during Tuesday’s proceedings, Duquet-Perron agreed with his statement that he witnessed Wilson take Doman by the throat and drop her to the floor. However, Duquet-Perron said that his statement referenced in the decision regarding Doman’s head hitting and breaking the molding was “a mistake” in his testimony.
“I just saw Const. Wilson defending himself and grabbing her by the neck and just bringing her down,” Duquet-Perron said Tuesday.
The proceedings are expected to run several more days into next week, and Doman is yet to give her own testimony.
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