Officer injured in attack by man trying to flee courthouse: Halifax police
Published Thursday, October 10, 2019 12:05PM ADT
Last Updated Friday, October 11, 2019 7:57AM ADT
HALIFAX – A man has been arrested after he allegedly attacked a police officer while trying to flee the provincial courthouse in Halifax.
Halifax Regional Police were called to provincial court on Spring Garden Road before 11 a.m. Thursday.
Police say the man had just been sentenced to a jail term before he allegedly assaulted the officer while trying to flee the courthouse.
“I don’t have the specifics on that individual, on what they were being sentenced for,” said Const. John MacLeod, spokesman for Halifax Regional Police.
“We just were aware that he was being given a sentence for a custodial term, at which point he attempted to flee the courthouse. In that process he assaulted one of our officers.”
The man was arrested for escaping lawful custody after a brief struggle with the responding officers and sheriffs.
The police officer, who has been a member of the Halifax Regional Police for three years, was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Police say the officer was attending a scheduled court appearance on an unrelated matter at the time of the incident.
“Obviously when one of our officers gets injured it’s very concerning to our HRP family,” said MacLeod. “We are a very close group and our thoughts go out to the officer’s family.”
Charges are pending against the man who was arrested.
“With the investigation still ongoing, we’re not sure exactly what the charges will be at this point, but we certainly do anticipate there will be charges in relation to the incident,” said MacLeod.
The courthouse was evacuated as a precaution following the incident. It reopened around 1 p.m.
“I couldn’t speak to what the specifics were of the courthouse and what their procedures are, but certainly I think the information that had come in initially was there was an individual that had attempted to escape custody, and that one of our officers had been injured in the process, so I think it was a precautionary measure,” said MacLeod of the evacuation.
During the evacuation, clients and lawyers gathered on the lawn, while police conducted interviews nearby.
While the officer's injuries aren't life-threatening, some say the scene could have been worse.
"I've been present when there's been fights in the courthouse," said Rick Woodburn, the president of the Canadian Association of Crown Council. "In fact, an individual had brought a concealed knife inside a body cavity and was planning to use it in our courthouse."
Woodburn says they have had issues with the courthouse for years, particularly in how prisoners are escorted through public spaces.
"There should be no mixing with the public," Woodburn said. "There shouldn't be opportunities to escape. There shouldn't be opportunities to hurt other people. That's the main problem."
Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey says there are several security measures in place at the courthouse.
"CCTV is present," Furey said. "There's perimeter patrols, there's specific training to cell block security, short term retention. Very satisfied with our sheriffs services and the work they did today."
The courthouse reopened at 1:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Nova Scotia Crown Attorneys office says they would like to see a new courthouse with updated security features in both Halifax and Dartmouth.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Emily Baron Cadloff