NWT judge will decide whether police can use ‘genital squeeze’
Judge Garth Malakoe is set to decide whether employing a “genital squeeze” to subdue non-compliant male prisoners violates Charter rights concerning the security of the person today.
In a testimony last month, lawyer Peter Harte argued that his client was sexually assaulted by an RCMP officer who “twisted his testicles and penis as hard as he could” in an attempt to handcuff the intoxicated man at Fort Providence in 2019.
However, the Crown currently notes that the level of force applied was “proportional and reasonable,” as officers were injured during the arrest and only used the squeeze when they thought they were losing the fight.
“So you’re saying,” Malakoe asked Harte, “that somehow by grabbing his testicles and penis, then twisting, that took it out of the ordinary and that never should have happened?”
“It’s a sexual assault,” countered Harte. “The reason he is being grabbed there, it is intended to shock him, it is intended to cause him significant pain … it is intended to interfere with his sexual integrity. “The reason he is grabbed there is because it is an area known by everybody to be … something you don’t do.”
Malakoe responded: “Is that because of the sexual nature of the area, or because of the extreme pain?” In turn, Harte said: “It’s intended to shock and it’s intended to hurt … surprise, frighten, cause fear … it’s such a personal area of our bodies, as human beings.” Harte also noted that if a female officer used that technique on a male prisoner, “it would be outrageous and clearly a sexual assault.”
Malakoe noted that the two officers are the scene were at a physical disadvantage. The male weighed between 140 and 150 pounds and the female was five feet tall.
Crown prosecutor Travis Weagant noted that “My friend [Harte] has used the term sexual assault a number of times … we’re not here to litigate whether a sexual assault was committed, we’re here to litigate the necessary and reasonable use of force,” said Weagant, noting the man was known to authorities as being violent when drunk.
“Everybody knows this is a vulnerability for everyone who has male genitals. I think it’s fair to say there is a general perception [among police] that this is an effective way to subdue or inflict pain on somebody. “On this particular day [the officer] was put in a difficult position and he made it.”
Malakoe is set to deliver his decision early today.