Couple accidentally dials 911, hangs up -- Police respond by breaking their door down, threatening them with tasers, breaking their ribs, and forcibly jailing them

Couple plan to sue RCMP over 911 reaction
Joanna Habdank, North Shore News

The Vancouver Sun
Nov. 23, 2006

NORTH VANCOUVER - A North Vancouver couple has complained to District of North Vancouver council and said they will sue the North Vancouver RCMP after officers responded to their hang-up 911 call by breaking down their door, making a forceful arrest and jailing them overnight when the couple refused to allow a house-search.

The RCMP said, however, that in this case, federal policy commands a home-check, designed to ensure public safety.

North Vancouver resident Marget Lieder said that in the early evening of Oct. 25 she was having wine with her partner and a guest when she misdialed the emergency number, meaning to call 411 instead. After promptly hanging up, the police contacted her, saying two officers were dispatched and warned her her home would be searched to confirm she wasn't in danger.

"I don't want my privacy to be invaded just because I misdial a number," she said. Once the officers arrived, she only spoke to them on her porch, refusing entrance. "They didn't have a search warrant and they didn't have anything to do in my house."

She insisted she had nothing to hide and there was no cause for distress. Three more officers arrived shortly after, broke down the door and arrested Lieder and her partner, Larry Pierce, for obstruction of justice, she said.

"I was sitting on the couch. They stuck a Taser in my face, threatening me with 50,000 volts," said Pierce, a well-known lawyer. "They threw me on the floor, twisted my left arm. A police officer stuck his knee into my ribs and jumped on me." Later he found out that his two ribs were cracked, recalled Pierce. The couple said the officers began taping them right away even though their rights weren't read until they were in the car. Once in jail, Pierce remembered he was interrogated for over an hour.

North Vancouver RCMP Const. John MacAdam said police are obliged to search the premises after a hang-up 911 call. Pierce maintained his rights were violated and he will go ahead with a lawsuit.

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