'There’s no reason': Saskatoon man questions police use of force after harming himself
SASKATOON -- A Saskatoon man is questioning the conduct of Saskatoon police after an incident in which he woke up after cutting his wrists to see officers by his bed.
"I don't understand why they would instantly go to violence against me when I was just asleep," said Tristen Bremner, a psychology student at the University of Saskatchewan. "I don't understand what made them think it was alright to just come at an 18-year-old and start beating them up. There's no reason for them to have to resort to that."
Saskatoon Police Service spokesperson Julie Clark told CTV News that, as a part of a regular process following such incidents, its professional standards section will contact the provincial complaints commission and begin an investigation.
Bremner said that on Jan. 28, following a university midterm, he and his girlfriend Taylor Schaffer, fresh off a move into a new apartment, decided to stay in an enjoy their new space. After a couple of drinks, Bremner who has experienced depression, started to feel a surge of sadness. The sadness led to an argument where both Bremner and Schaffer raised their voices, he said.
The situation escalated when he started to have suicidal thoughts and resorted to cutting his wrists. Fearing for Bremner's safety Schaffer phoned up Bremner's mother to see if she could calm him down, he said. His mother called 911 and asked for paramedics to respond.
"She told them I have been struggling with depression and I was just telling my girlfriend how I was having suicidal thoughts and I ended up cutting my wrists a little bit," he said.
Bremner said he eventually calmed himself down and went to sleep around 9:30 p.m. He was woken by police officers standing by his bed.
"I woke up at around 10 p.m. when police came and I remember seeing them come in right next to the bed, telling me to get up and that they wanted to talk to me," Bremner said. “The moment I started leaning up off the bed one of the police got on top of me and started hitting me."
Schaffer, who was standing just steps away, said she pleaded with the officers to stop.
"They were using excessive force, their fists were swinging and they were hitting him and when they got him to roll over, the one officer put his knee of the back of his neck and I remember screaming 'my boyfriend, you're hurting him he can't breathe,' and he just looked at me and said he's fine, back away," Schaffer said.
Still in his underwear, Bremner said police handcuffed him and walked him to the police car. He spent the night in a detention cell.
Bremner said he was released the next day and charged with assaulting a peace officer. Bremner said officers told him he hit an officer in the groin, but he and Schaffer deny he assaulted either officer.
"I wasn't the one who fought them, I didn't get up and start fighting them. It was just me getting straight up from being dead asleep and then I remember asking, ‘why are you guys in my place’ and then all of a sudden they started getting on top of me."
"When he got up he used his arms like anyone would do to get up, and as soon as he did that they felt something was up and they got on top of him," Schaffer said.
Clarke said officers attended an apartment in the 300 Block of Saskatchewan Crescent East for a report that a man in an apartment was "intoxicated, agitated and causing harm to himself. Upon arrival officers encountered the male and were attempting to assess him for injuries when one of the officers was assaulted. Both officers then attempted to take the combative male into custody and were required to use force to do so for the safety of the individual involved, as well as the officers."
Bremner said he was released on the condition to not drink alcohol or take any drugs that were not prescribed to him. The court also ordered Bremner get a mental health assessment done at Royal University Hospital.
Bremner said he hasn't been able to sleep well since the incident and has experienced nightmares.
"I'm seeing counsellors at the school and figuring out how to deal with the stress," Bremner said. "I'm focusing on school, taking my new prescription, I'm seeing a therapist as well to try and talk about everything."
Bremner is scheduled back in court for the assault charge in June.