Toronto cop who left gun at bar after night of drinking pleads guilty to misconduct

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A long-time police officer who left his service-issued gun and ammunition inside a bar after a night of drinking has pleaded guilty to professional misconduct at the Toronto police disciplinary tribunal.

Toronto police Const. Bradley Karges, an officer with 19 years on the force, was off-duty when he went to Milton’s Rad Brothers Sports Bar in September 2017 with another officer, bringing with him his unloaded semi-automatic handgun and three rounds of ammunition stored inside a lunch cooler.

Toronto police Const. Bradley Karges, seen here in a police handout photo from Oct. 6, 2017, has pleaded guilty to professional misconduct for leaving his handgun and ammunition at a Milton bar after a night of drinking.
Toronto police Const. Bradley Karges, seen here in a police handout photo from Oct. 6, 2017, has pleaded guilty to professional misconduct for leaving his handgun and ammunition at a Milton bar after a night of drinking.  (Toronto Police Service)

After consuming what a police tribunal document characterized as “several alcoholic beverages,” Karges left the bar, forgetting the cooler. One of the officers had been cut off by bar staff, criminal court heard last year, though Karges disputed it was him.

Staff later opened up the cooler and, finding a gun, called Halton Regional Police, who charged Karges with careless use of a firearm.

Karges also contacted Halton police after realizing he’d forgotten his gun and surrendered to them the same day. He later entered a guilty plea and was granted a conditional discharge, sentenced to one year of probation and had to perform 100 hours of community service.

“It goes without saying that the offence here shows an incredible lack of judgment,” said Crown Michael Godinho during Karges’ criminal plea last year. “That things didn’t turn out worse — that someone with some nefarious means or intentions didn’t get a hold of the firearm — is lucky, I think.”

“Obviously the public, the patrons of the restaurant, the staff, were all put at risk,” he said.

Police officers who are criminally charged automatically face a professional misconduct charge under Ontario’s Police Services Act. In a hearing Tuesday, Karges pleaded guilty to discreditable conduct for having been found guilty of a criminal offence.

His lawyer Lawrence Gridin and the Toronto police prosecutor brought forward a joint submission asking for 17 days’ docked pay, an equivalent of thousands of dollars in missed salary. Karges is currently working in 23 division, in the city’s northwest corner.

Both the criminal court and police tribunal heard Karges pleaded guilty early, had no prior criminal record or workplace disciplinary issues, had volunteered extensively in his community and received commendations from supervisors and senior officers.

“All those reference letters recognize that, while they didn’t try to defend what he did, it was their view that this was a lapse and it was very out of character for officer Karges and they don’t expect to see it repeated again,” Karges’ criminal lawyer, Bryan Badali, said during last year’s court plea.

Godinho and Judge Richard LeDressay also acknowledged the mitigating circumstances in the case, the judge saying it was clear Karges was a contributing member of society and Godinho remarking on his “spotless and quite impressive work record.”

Nonetheless, LeDressay had to impose a sentence serious enough to publicly condemn the behaviour and deter others from doing the same. In addition to probation and community service, Karges was ordered to pay a $1000 victim fine surcharge.

“There was a certain danger or risk to the public that was involved with respect to this matter,” LeDressay said.

During his criminal guilty plea, Karges apologized to the court and the public, saying he recognized he put them at risk and that a day didn’t go by where he didn’t regret what he did.

“I feel bad about everything,” he said.

The Toronto police hearing officer reserved judgment on Karges’ 17-day penalty.

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing. Reach her by email at wgillis@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis

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Toronto police chief on gun violence: ‘To think we can arrest our way out of this is a falsehood’

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“Not only did we have a high-profile homicide case to look after, we also had to respond to two mass casualty attacks that left a tremendous loss of life and lots of injuries for our citizens.’’

High-profile homicide case: A serial killer preying on the gay community, though Saunders had assured there was no such thing last December, despite tracking orders for the suspect obtained just days earlier, leading ultimately to the arrest of Bruce McArthur on Jan. 18.

Mass casualty attacks: The deliberate van rampage on north Yonge St. in April that killed 10 and injured 16, some critically; the lone shooter carnage on Danforth in July that killed two innocents and wounded 13.

“Two mass casualty incidents in such a short period of time,” said the chief, grimly, recalling a personal nadir for 2018. “I think that was a game-changer. It’s one thing when you’re dealing with gunplay. It’s another thing when you’re walking down the street and looking over your shoulder or you’re sitting in a restaurant with family and friends and the next thing…

“The general public really felt stung by the two mass casualties back to back and it’s still there.”

A year of ominous firsts for Toronto: An unprecedented 96 murders, 51 of them by gunfire; police had recorded 406 shootings as of Sunday. Mass carnage by disturbed individuals, the kind of extremist slaughter we believed, in our smug naïveté, only happened elsewhere.

So, yes, the statistics were skewed by two abnormal and deviant occurrences. But the shootings, my God the shootings.

“I’ve said earlier that most of our gun violence is street gang related and I stand by that. That’s not just Toronto, that’s all urban cities across North America. The street gang issue is our primary concern. Most people that are getting shot are people that are living a high-risk lifestyle, in conjunction with being associated to street gangs. That’s the root of the matter that we have to look at.

“The numbers are one thing. But people that are motivated to shoot other people I’ve got concerns with. If people think that it’s a matter of just arresting and all is well, that’s a far cry from the truth, a far cry from the right solution in today’s environment. You need to have the resources necessary, at the front end and the back end, and our enforcement piece in the middle in order to get this right.”

But what does getting it right mean, practically? Because there is widespread disagreement on where to stick the limited fingers — and the funds — in the dike.

Not carding — street checks which provided police officers with street intel yet was disproportionately borne by the city’s racialized communities and underprivileged neighbourhoods. The police board ended that, just as, three years ago, TAVIS (Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy) was disbanded.

“To think we can arrest our way out of this is a falsehood,” Saunders stated bluntly, when asked about the ramifications of ditching carding and TAVIS, which some believe has led directly to brazen violence and gangbangers laughing at police.

“Ninety per cent of these folks we arrest get out, will be out and will be continually released,” said Saunders, clearly a shot across the bow at the judicial bail system. He pointed to Project Patton — massive multi-jurisdiction raids in June that resulted in more than 1,000 charges against 75 accused and the largest weapons seizure in the city’s history. Yet most defendants cartwheeled right through bail court. “Some of those members that we arrested were people that were arrested in prior large-scale projects.”

Which might call into question the usefulness of such roust-out-of-bed raids. They certainly do disrupt gang activity and illegal weapons distribution, but only temporarily. Criminals reorganize, gangs reconstitute, the wheels of violence keep on turning.

And, it must be noted, the public by and large favours this type of interdiction. They see all those guns laid out on a display table at the cop shop and there’s a sense that something is being done. But it is not a sustainable solution to urban crime drenched in bloodshed, with innocents caught in the crossfire.

Repeatedly, Saunders advocated stronger community relationships and interlocking engagement — police, public, social agencies, partnerships.

“The enforcement piece plays an important part. I’m not here to say that it’s softer policing. I’m here to say that it’s smarter policing. There have to be agencies at the front end that prevent these young boys from shooting others. There’s a lot of funding that needs to be put in. Not grant funding; core funding, into the communities. Nobody’s ever, that I know of, born saying ‘I want to be a street gang member.’

“The enforcement piece is ours, and then the deterrent factor. When someone shoots someone, they’re going to jail. Developing the relationship piece is what’s critical, first and foremost.’’

This past year, 514 handguns taken off the street, 172 more than 2017. But the underlying factor is what seizes Saunders most. “What’s motivating people to use a gun to resolve issues? Those are things we can’t just do as an enforcement piece. It is necessary but it has to be streamlined, it has to be surgical, it has to be intelligence-led if we’re going to get it right.”

Distilled: “Arresting police is not a success story.”

Well, not so sure about that. We’ve had decades of trying to avert gang affiliation, keep young people off the criminal path via youth programs and precrisis intervention. Some community programs have worked better than others; there’s been precious little auditing of efficiency and always, always, more clamouring for funding. Yet the jails grow more crowded, the promise of opportunity shrivels, the lure of gangs enticing, distrust burgeoning.

“When we go into communities that don’t have the funding, that have no hope, that despair, 99 per cent of those members of the community are law-abiding,’’ Saunders emphasizes. “They care about their babies just like we all do. But at the same time, they have to deal with reality and they’re concerned for their safety.’’

The chief likened gangs to sports teams. “It’s not an individual sport. So when a member from Team A shoots a member from Team B in that particular neighbourhood, it makes it very hard for you as a mom or a dad to pick up the phone and say this is who did it and I saw everything. Because that one person gets apprehended but the rest of the team is still out there. There’s fear of retribution. I would like some methodology in which we can still get that information and translate it so we can make it into a courtroom somehow.”

Because people do call the cops, even in neighbourhoods with a long history of bitterness toward law enforcement. All levels of government, said Saunders, should examine procedures to ensure their safety in co-operating with police. “Our Criminal Code, I think it’s antiquated.”

Maybe so are our presumptions of criminality.

“I want to be candid. I don’t want to make this sound sexy. We take every single shooting seriously. If we have stronger relationships with the community, we have an opportunity to reduce that. But at the end of the day, when a young man takes a gun and shoots, there are different entities that are responsible for that. We are the aftermath of that. What is in front of that? What are the measuring tools to see whether or not things are successful?

“So to dump on me and say, what are you going to do about it? I’m going to educate the public and say if we’re going to do it right, it has to be collective. And I’m going to continue to deliver that message.”

He’ll be doing it, Saunders expects, with some 200 more officers hired by the beginning of 2020. He vows they will be deployed smart, where most needed — “district-focused.” And if the much-vaunted Toronto Police Service’s modernization plan continues as calculated, front-line officers won’t be wasting their time on low-grade call-outs that can deftly be handled by civilian employees, online and via an expanding roster of special constables to relieve the load on front-line cops.

Under that program, within its first 108 days this past year, special constables took on 23,000 calls, Saunders pointed out, amounting to 3,300 hours of police work, which simultaneously reduced the response time on urgent calls.

A city of 2.8 million people. Two million calls to police this past year. Five million “contact points” between police and the public.

“Throughout the year, despite everything that happened, our members have truly done outstanding things. They’ve rescued people from drowning in an elevator. They prevented suicides. They’ve rescued people and pets from freezing water. They brought shoes to homeless people. They’ve supported families by purchasing groceries. They’ve walked into gunfights, knife fights, saved lives and continued to make arrests when needed.”

But has any of it made a difference to the quality of life in Toronto?

“Depends on who you ask.”

Rosie DiManno is a columnist based in Toronto covering sports and current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @rdimanno

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St. Mike’s hospital trauma surgeons are using battlefield techniques to treat victims of gun violence

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“One major difference is that today, when someone comes in, we start to give them a blood transfusion very early on,” he said, noting that until just over a decade ago, these patients were immediately given saline IV fluids with blood to follow.

But a 2007 study, of which Rizoli was a contributing author, showed that trauma patients suffering from major hemorrhagic bleeding have much better outcomes if they are immediately given massive blood transfusions.

“They do much better if they get blood from the start,” he said.

Many of these survivors owe their lives to the health professionals such as Rizoli.

St. Mike’s — one of three trauma centres in the city — sees about one shooting victim a week and is able save approximately 80 per cent of them, Rizoli said.

The Star recently spent some time with a Rizoli and the team of trauma surgeons at the hospital to learn how they are trying to keep more of these patients alive.

Rizoli said it stands to reason that shooting victims are faring better today. The increase in gun violence sadly means trauma surgeons are getting much more experience in dealing with these patients.

These days, St. Mike’s averages about one victim of gun violence a week.

“During my training 25 years ago, gunshot wounds were uncommon and many Canadian surgeons had to train in the U.S. to gain experience in treating them. The growth in the number of victims to gun violence and the progression to more lethal weapons had been fortunately balanced by enormous advances in trauma science and practice,” Rizoli said.

Advancements have been made in research, technology, drugs hospital design, workflow, protocols and best practices, he noted.

Much of the learning has come from the battlefield.

“We have learned from wars that patients who have lost a lot of blood cannot clot appropriately,” Rizoli explained.

They suffer from what is known as “trauma-induced coagulopathy,” and if not treated quickly, it can lead to a patient bleeding to death.

“We give them blood, and tons of blood, to start with. Then we try to diagnose, as quickly as possible, exactly what is wrong with their coagulation,” Rizoli said.

They do this by using a piece of equipment, purchased by the hospital about five years ago, which quickly analyzes blood-clotting properties. Called ROTEM, short for rotational thromboelastometry, it guides health professionals in determining what blood products trauma patients require so that their blood clots properly.

St. Mike’s surgeons have recently begun to use another technique developed on the battlefield, this one to stop traumatic bleeding.

The minimally invasive procedure is known as REBOA, or Resuscitative Endovascular Balloon Occlusion of the Aorta. It involves running a catheter up the femoral artery and into the aorta. A balloon at the tip of the catheter is inflated, stopping the flow of blood.

The procedure can be done in the trauma bay. Previously, patients would have been moved to the opening room where their chests would be opened and aortas clamped. That took much longer, was more invasive and carried a higher risk of death.

Before using the new REBOA catheter on patients, St. Mike’s tested it out on a high-tech mannequin. The simulation served to educate those in the trauma program — including nurses, respiratory therapists and surgeons — on how it works.

“It’s like crash-testing a car. You wouldn’t drive a car if it hadn’t been crash-tested first. We do the same thing with new processes. We crash-test them and make sure they work like we anticipate they will,” said Dr. Andrew Petrosoniak.

He and colleague Dr. Chris Hicks are emergency physicians, trauma team leaders and simulation educators at St. Mike’s. Their work on simulation exercises has helped improve the workflow in trauma resuscitation care. It has also informed the design of a new trauma bay at the hospital, scheduled to open in 2019.

One of their exercises involved tracking the movements of three nurses treating a simulated trauma patient. It was videotaped and the movements of each nurse were followed, using an overlay tracing tool, with a different colour for each nurse.

The end result looked like colourful child’s scrawl to the untrained eye. But to Petrosoniak and Hicks, it revealed how the nurses lost time criss-crossing the trauma bay to get different pieces of equipment.

If the equipment needed was closer at hand, nurses would need to criss-cross the room and seconds could be saved. There would be less risk of nurses bumping into each other and dropping instruments.

“So now we understand where they’re moving and we can improve their efficiency,” Petrosoniak said. “The whole point of efficiency is to get the care faster. If you are thinking about gunshot wound patients, time matters significantly.”

Hicks said the information has also been used in the design of the new trauma bay to show how much room is needed around each bed.

The pair have also worked on creating a new “massive transfusion protocol.” They examined steps taken by everyone involved in the transfusing large amounts of blood into trauma patients.

That includes, as an example, porters charged with picking up blood from the blood bank at the other end of the hospital and carrying it over to the trauma bay.

Petrosoniak and Hicks realized seconds could be lost by waiting for an elevator, so now porters must take the stairs. As well porters must announce themselves when entering the trauma bay instead of waiting to be noticed.

Through changes such as this, delivery time for blood has been cut by 12.5 per cent to nine minutes.

“In the past you might have been waiting for blood,” Hicks said, citing research showing that every minute blood is delayed results in a 5 per cent increase in mortality.

Trauma surgeons at St. Mike’s are also working to reduce the need for their services by campaigning to reduce access to guns. Two surgeons with much to say on this happened to be on duty the night of the Danforth shooting in July. Drs. Najma Ahmed and Bernard Lawless say that the Danforth shooting prompted them to increase their activism.

“I think there is greater public awareness that this is a public health crisis. I think there is also greater awareness that guns can be lethal beyond just crimes. They are very often used in adolescent suicide in Canada,” Ahmed said.

This past fall, she helped draft a position statement, calling for limited civilian access to firearms, and then assisted in getting endorsements for it from medical associations, including the Trauma Association of Canada and the Canadian Association of General Surgeons.

She and Lawless have also been lobbying politicians to take steps to crack down on gun violence.

“Dr. Ahmed and I have been contacting decision-makers at all levels,” Lawless said. “It’s going to take political fortitude to make change. When you look at this from a common sense perspective, it’s really not a difficult issue.”

Calling gun violence a “disease,” Ahmed said it makes perfect sense for physicians to be involved in trying to eradicate it.

“It has its own risk factors and own epidemiology, its preventable strategy,” she said.

Lawless said the profession has a long history in working on injury prevention: “Trauma surgeons have long played a role in injury prevention, whether it’s around seatbelt use, drinking and driving, and even working with engineers on how cars and roads are designed.”

Rizoli said diseases can be eradicated and points to smallpox as an example.

“No one should be injured by a disease that is completely preventable. No one in Canada should he a victim of gun violence. There could come a time when this could end.”

Theresa Boyle is a Toronto-based reporter covering health. Follow her on Twitter: @theresaboyle

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Ottawa considers gun control options with a handgun ban seen as costly and possibly ineffective

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OTTAWA—The federal government is considering further restrictions on handguns but will stop short of an absolute ban, as the cost to buy back legally owned handguns is pegged as high as $2 billion, the Star has learned.

Escalating gun violence across the country, including Toronto, spurred calls for the federal Liberals to act. After public consultations, deliberations are now underway with a proposal being readied to take to cabinet early next year.

Among options under consideration are the imposition of tougher legal obligations on gun owners such as mandatory storage in secured lockers at a shooting range, not at home, and wider powers for police to preventively suspend a gun owner’s licence where there is a risk someone may be harmed. For instance if a health professional raises an alarm about an individual’s mental health, police would be able to act to suspend a licence in absence of a criminal charge or the registration of a criminal conviction.

A senior government official who was granted anonymity in order to discuss the debate underway within government, said no final decisions have been made about whether to propose a ban on handguns and assault weapons.

In the case of the latter, there is no precise definition in law of just what an assault weapon is, but the government wants stricter controls on “assault-style” firearms, said the source.

Overall, the Liberal government is looking to package a combination of measures that will be effective at addressing gun violence and at curbing the diversion of legal guns into illegal hands; and there are doubts that a ban will have the desired effect, according to the insider with knowledge of the file.

It appears, however, there is public support for a handgun and assault weapon ban in most parts of the country, with the source citing internal polling that indicates 70 per cent of Canadians would support a ban. The numbers vary across regions, the source said, with the highest support in Quebec at 76 per cent, roughly 73 per cent in Atlantic region, 70 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area and support dropping to as low as 50 per cent in western Canada.

(That overall number — 70 per cent — appears slightly higher than a recent opinion survey by Nanos Research conducted for CTV News, published in September, which said 48 per cent support a ban, while 19 per cent “somewhat support” a ban.)

After the tragic Danforth shooting last summer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Scarborough Southwest MP Bill Blair as minister of border security and organized crime reduction, and instructed Blair, a former Toronto police chief, to work with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to examine “a full ban on handguns and assault weapons in Canada, while not impeding the lawful use of firearms by Canadians.” Blair has said he wants to complete his examination by the end of this year.

On Thursday in Montreal — where the 29th anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre was marked — Trudeau pointed to Bill C-71 which his government has already introduced in the Commons that tightens some aspects of current gun laws, but said “we are very open to doing more.”

“Certainly there is the problem of criminals’ access to assault weapons and handguns and we will be looking at measures to continue to keep our communities safe.”

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The mayors of Toronto and Montreal have urged Ottawa to adopt an absolute ban on handgun sales. Toronto Mayor John Tory also wants the Liberal government to enact tougher penalties for gun traffickers, tougher bail controls on accused persons with a track record of gun crimes, along with stricter gun storage laws.

The deadline for online consultations has passed, and Blair completed stakeholder consultations last week.

The source said the federal Liberal cabinet is not expected to deal with whatever recommendations arise from Blair’s examination until the New Year.

A second Liberal source suggested it is more likely that the government would look at enacting stricter storage, transportation and transfer regulations than an outright ban.

There are 1,400 shooting ranges across Canada where restricted and prohibited gun owners could be required to safely store their guns. Gun laws already require secure storage and handling of firearms and ammunition.

Yet advocates of stricter gun laws like Wendy Cukier, a co-founder of the Coalition for Gun Control formed nearly 30 years ago in the wake of the 1989 Montreal massacre at École Polytechnique, say a ban on handguns and assault-style weapons is crucial.

In an interview, Cukier said “an integrated approach” to gun violence is needed, including better screening of licence applicants, support for victims, and more resources for intelligence-led policing to counter smuggling, and she added a ban is key to that.

“Whatever the measures are, they have to reduce access and reduce the risk that people who shouldn’t get those guns will get them,” said Cukier in an interview. “And I don’t know what besides a ban could achieve that result.”

She added had governments acted sooner, the number of restricted and prohibited weapons would not have already ballooned from about 350,000 in 2004, to about 1 million, according to the annual reports of the commissioner of firearms.

The notion of banning certain firearms raises questions such as whether Ottawa would “grandfather” those owners who already have legally registered handguns and allow them to keep their weapons, or whether the government would buy back their weapons.

The source said the $1.5 billion to $2 billion estimate for a handgun buyback was based on a loose estimate of 1 million handguns registered in Canada. The source added there are “probably” twice that number in illegal, unregistered handguns in circulation.

In fact, the RCMP-led Canadian Firearms Program says 861,850 handguns were registered to individuals in Canada as of Sept. 30, 2018. The Mounties say those handguns are registered to 292,701 licensed gun owners. On top of that, according to the federal government, there are about 100,000 other non-handgun firearms — usually rifles and shotguns — legally owned and registered in Canada.

The federal government’s consultation document published to inform public debate on a handgun ban says in most cases, individuals own handguns for sport shooting or as part of a collection and it acknowledges “most gun crimes are not committed with legally-owned firearms.”

But the same document outlines a big concern for Blair and the government: that thefts from legal owners represent a growing source of illegally-acquired domestic handguns and other firearms, citing a 70-per-cent increase in break-ins to steal a firearm between 2010 and 2017 (from 673 to 1,175 incidents, according to Statistics Canada). It says there is no information about whether the thefts were from individuals or businesses, or whether they were related to improper storage or transportation of firearms.

It acknowledged any ban of handguns or assault weapons “would primarily affect legal firearms owners, while the illicit market would be indirectly affected as there would be fewer available to potentially divert.”

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says if he formed government he would review laws and repeal any regulations or policies that unnecessarily target law-abiding gun owners. He says he would ensure Parliament, not the RCMP, has sole authority to reclassify guns, and he would provide more money for police to target gangs, to support programs for youth, and to conduct rigorous background checks on would-be gun owners.

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

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Man who says he faced racism at worksite alleges he was purposely shot with nail gun

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A man is facing charges after a construction worker in Pictou County said harassment by a colleague escalated last month from racist name-calling to being purposely shot in the back with a nail gun.

Nhlanhla Dlamini, 21, said he was working at the site of a new home in Abercrombie when his co-worker pulled back the safety on the air-powered tool, aimed it at him and waited for him to turn and run before firing.

RCMP said Wednesday a 43-year-old man was arrested Sept. 27 for criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

A lawyer for Dlamini’s employer, P.Q. Properties Ltd., has vigorously maintained the shooting was an accident, dismissing the police investigation as « ridiculous. »

On the day of the incident, Dlamini, who is black, said his co-worker accused him of working too slowly before threatening him with the nail gun.

Dlamini says he was struck with a 3½-inch nail. The company says the shooting was an accident. (Steve Berry/CBC)

« He turned around and pulled the safety on the gun and points at me and says, ‘I’ll show you how to speed up,' » Dlamini said in an interview with CBC News.

« I just looked at him and I was just like, ‘What are you doing that for?’ And he just smiled.

« And when he smiled about it, I just turned around and started running. And that’s when he shot the air nail and it hit me in the back. »

His lung was punctured with a 3 ½-inch framing nail, he said.

Dlamini said he was screaming and yelling, trying to make sense of what happened, when the man came over to him as he lay on the ground, plucked the nail out and threw it away as a small crowd gathered to see what was going on.

The man told the three other people on the crew and their boss, Paul Quinn, that a smaller finishing nail had accidently ricocheted and nicked Dlamini, he said.

Dlamini says the nail gun was loaded with 3½-inch framing nails the day he was shot. This nail is the same size. (Steve Berry/CBC)

Dlamini said because he was in shock, struggling to breathe and talk at the same time, he couldn’t tell his side of the story. There were no witnesses to the incident.

« It was just me and him and that was the scariest part and he used that as an opportunity to tell them whatever he wanted, » he said. « I’m still in shock. I can’t believe it. »  

One of the workers put a Band-Aid on Dlamini’s wound. Dlamini said Quinn drove him home and did not offer any medical attention. 

When a friend drove him to the hospital over an hour later, Dlamini said his doctor told him it could have been far worse if he hadn’t gotten medical attention.

Dlamini said he required emergency surgery to repair a collapsed lung and spent four days in the hospital with a chest tube.

His mother, Stacey Dlamini, told CBC News she called Quinn and informed him her son was undergoing emergency surgery and asked why he hadn’t been taken to hospital. She then called the RCMP. 

Stacey Dlamini, in her home in Pictou, N.S., says she told P.Q. Properties Ltd. owner Paul Quinn the details of her son’s injuries in a phone call from the hospital on the day Nhlanhla was shot with a nail gun at a worksite. (Steve Berry/CBC)

When reached by phone by CBC News, Quinn referred questions to his lawyer, Craig Clarke. Quinn is a New Glasgow-based property developer and landlord. The workers were building him a new home when the incident occurred.

In a Sept. 23 interview, four days after the incident, Clarke disputed that Dlamini was seriously injured. He said the nail shooting wasn’t intentional and that the wound only required a Band-Aid. 

Quinn did not contact the RCMP after the incident because « there was no reason to, » said Clarke.

He said Quinn offered to drive Dlamini to the hospital or call an ambulance but he refused. Dlamini’s refusal was documented in an incident report Quinn prepared with statements from people at the worksite, said Clarke.

He declined to share the report with CBC News. Quinn is not required to give the report to the RCMP, he said.

« I would not concur with RCMP’s position at all that a serious injury happened. I would also strongly take the position that the RCMP, based on the information that I reviewed, have no reason whatsoever to be involved in any criminal investigation whatsoever. Zero, » said Clarke.

Quinn, owner of P.Q. Properties in New Glasgow, tells CBC to leave Centennial Drive in Abercrombie on Sept. 27. The road leads to the construction site of a new home where a workplace incident occurred on Sept 19. (Steve Berry/CBC)

Reached again Wednesday, Clarke said three people who were on site that day don’t support Dlamini’s allegations and there’s no basis for any charge.

Dlamini said he had been on the job for just three weeks when the nail gun shooting occurred. During those few weeks, he said the co-worker who fired the gun called him « Squigger » and occasionally referred to him as « whatever the F they call you at home. »

The co-worker also threw nails at him, hammered his booted foot and stapled his jacket to a staircase, Dlamini said.

Dlamini said he was the only person of colour on the worksite and the only person who was bullied by the man.

He said he first introduced himself as Nh — a shortened version of his South African name — but the name Squigger stuck. 

He said at first he did not understand what the nickname meant, until a friend told him.

« I’ve been letting them literally call me the N-word, just without the N being the first thing, » said Dlamini. « I was repelled by that. I was taken aback. And I just feel uncomfortable ever going back to a job site that would be like that. »

Dlamini says he won’t be returning to work for Quinn and fears for the safety of the other employees. Dlamini moved to Canada with his family from South Africa five years ago. (Steve Berry/CBC)

He also said the man who shot the nail told him everyone should own a black person.

« I don’t want to rush into pulling the racist card. But in this incident, knowing that Squigger was the N-word, low-key, » said Dlamini. « I can say that it was a racist act and a racist situation. »

At one point, Dlamini spoke to his co-worker directly, saying he was uncomfortable and concerned for his personal safety. The man responded that he would keep doing what he wanted, said Dlamini. 

Dlamini said he feared for his job and tried to keep his head down. He was worried the man would retaliate if he shared his concerns with Quinn, he said.

Clarke said he was unaware of any bullying or racism at P.Q. Properties. 

« I have no knowledge of that whatsoever. I couldn’t comment on that. But in the incident reports I reviewed, there’s nothing about that, » said Clarke. 

« If somebody’s making an allegation like that, they should be prepared to back it up. »

P.Q. Properties is building a new home on Centennial Drive in Abercrombie. (Steve Berry/CBC)

There have been no charges laid against Quinn or P.Q. Properties, Clarke said. 

The Department of Labour said they were notified of the incident by the RCMP but they are not involved while the criminal investigation is ongoing.

Employers in Nova Scotia are required to report serious injuries to the Department of Labour within 24 hours.

Clarke said he’s not aware if there was any communication between Quinn and the department.

Department spokesperson Chrissy Matheson could not comment on the incident but said there is no requirement that employers seek medical care for injured workers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The department said it has not placed a stop-work order or any conditions on the worksite.

A construction worker in Truro, N.S., demonstrates how to pull back the safety and fire a nail gun similar to the one that Dlamini alleges was used at P.Q. Properties. (Steve Berry/CBC)

Read more articles at CBC Nova Scotia 

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