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Watchdog clears N.S. RCMP after stun grenade ignites Eskasoni home during arrests

Neighbours watch as smoke billows from a house fire caused by an RCMP stun grenade during an arrest in Eskasoni First Nation in February 2023. (Erin Pottie/CBC - image credit)
Neighbours watch as smoke billows from a house fire caused by an RCMP stun grenade during an arrest in Eskasoni First Nation in February 2023. (Erin Pottie/CBC - image credit)

Nova Scotia's police watchdog says RCMP did not do anything illegal after a fire broke out in an Eskasoni First Nation home during an arrest last year.

A report from the Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) says police used two tear gas canisters to try to force two murder suspects out of a home on 74th Street last February, but one of them refused to leave.

The suspect was seen on the main floor, so a stun grenade was then used in the basement to try to scare him out.

The SIRT report says the basement appeared to be clear to the officer who used the grenade, but there was a couch that couldn't be seen from the basement window and it caught fire, which quickly spread.

No one was injured in the fire, but neighbours watched and posted pictures and video to social media as heavily armed officers in tactical gear tried to get the suspects out of the house.

The police watchdog says the fire marshal deemed the blaze accidental.

It says police had lawful authority to make the arrests, had an operation plan and the officer who used the stun grenade did not show a wanton or reckless disregard for life.

SiRT says the operation plan included having the fire department on standby "as there is a risk to these type of deployments" and firefighters were on the scene within five minutes of being called.

RCMP had been looking to arrest two people after 30-year-old Andrew Carter Morris of Eskasoni was found dead in the community in August 2021.

Kurt Daniel Gould, 33, and Scentina Marie Michael, 34, both of Eskasoni, were charged with first-degree murder and are also facing counts of armed robbery.

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