April 18, 2009
Dane Spurrell, 18, of Mount Pearl, is arrested when two RNC officers mistake his autism for public intoxication. He was taken to the St. John‚Äôs lockup and during that time was not allowed to call home. He is shown asking to do so in the lockup video.
A formal complaint is subsequently filed by Dane‚Äôs mother, Diane Spurrell, with the RNC Public Complaints Commission.
Diane Spurrell and her son Dane Spurrell are shown with the transcripts and other documents from the complaint over Dane‚Äôs 2009 arrest, which is still before the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Public Complaints Commission. ‚ÄĒ File photo by Barb Sweet/The Telegram
April 23, 2009
Then RNC Chief Joe Browne apologizes to Dane Spurrell and his mother.
When arrested, Spurrell had been walking home from a video store.
Browne says the initial responding officer, who had about two years‚Äô experience at that point, spotted Spurrell when a car swerved to avoid him on Topsail Road. According to Browne, the officer tried to speak to him, but said Spurrell was unable to communicate clearly. That‚Äôs when she made the judgment call that Browne said was the turning point in the encounter ‚ÄĒ she decided Spurrell was high on drugs. In actuality, he was exhibiting signs of autism.
Browne announces officers will get training in responding to people with autism.
The RNC Public Complaints Commission begins discussions on the process for a hearing on the complaint.
Proceedings finally commence.
Diane Spurrell tells The Telegram she is frustrated at the length of time the complaint is taking to resolve and says she feels weighed down against the legal representation on the officers‚Äô side.
She says she initially decided to file the complaint after learning the results of the RNC‚Äôs internal investigation, which concluded the two officers acted in ‚Äúgood faith‚ÄĚ when dealing with her son and acted in accordance with RNC
Dane Spurrell does not have legal representation at the hearings, although his mother praises the work of the commission‚Äôs lawyer, Peter O‚ÄôFlaherty. However, the hearings are consuming much of Diane Spurrell‚Äôs time.
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She said a lengthy delay was caused by the officers‚Äô counsel requesting her son‚Äôs medical records.
Dane Spurrell previously received a settlement from the RNC, but that was set aside for his future.
Hearings resume for final testimony.
This week, Diane Spurrell told The Telegram a date has been set for closing arguments ‚ÄĒ Oct. 23. That date was confirmed by the commission.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been one recess after another, after another,‚ÄĚ she said.
If that one-day proceeding goes ahead as planned, a report from adjudicator John McGrath is expected within 90 days.
The adjudicator can seek an extension on the 90 days, but requires agreement by all parties.
The Telegram has been following this story for 4 years and 5 months
What we want to know:
When will the RNC Public Complaints Commission conclude the matter and reach a decision?
Is there a matter of public interest you‚Äôd like addressed? Send us your question by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can‚Äôt guarantee we‚Äôll get answers, but if it‚Äôs an issue in the public domain we will certainly ask questions.