The actions – or “inactions” – of Halifax Regional Police are being questioned by a man who says he watched in shock as rescue efforts were made for the man who fell to his death in the harbour Saturday evening.
Dartmouth resident Daniel Towsey called the police response “absolutely atrocious” during an interview with Metro yesterday.
Towsey said he saw one officer talking with two frantic women.
“He’s sitting there acting like he doesn’t believe what these women are telling them,” he said. “The women kept repeating it, trying to get this man to listen that there’s two people in the water under the ferry terminal.”
When another woman who jumped in the harbour finally pulled the man’s body out of “that murky, dark water,” Towsey claimed police were still slow to respond. “I’m thinking: ‘Doesn’t he have training in CPR? He’s not doing anything!’ ”
Police spokesman Const. Brian Palmeter said officers aren’t trained in water rescue, but do know standard first aid and CPR and will do what they can to assist other emergency personnel.
He said there was an officer on scene within three minutes after the call came in at about 8:30 p.m., adding two officers “put themselves at risk by jumping in the water” once they were able to spot the man.
“Their intention there was to help,” Palmeter said. “I think our officers did everything that they were expected to and more.”
Towsey said he never saw an officer in the water and that “crowd control was non-existent” on the bustling waterfront in the midst of the Halifax International Buskers Festival.
One woman, who didn’t want her name used, told Metro the 52-year-old man was in the water “for a good 15 minutes” before getting pulled out. She said she was about 10 feet away from the man, who was standing on a ledge when he fell “where the ferry docks.”
Palmeter said police are calling the man’s death “an accidental drowning,” adding the investigation is closed.
With files from Philip Croucher