Officer feared for safety during traffic stop

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HALIFAX – A Halifax police officer says he acted out of concern for his safety during a routine traffic stop that spiralled into an angry confrontation with a P.E.I. couple who were on their way to a medical appointment.

Const. Matthew MacGillivray told the Nova Scotia Police Review Board today that he had never encountered a traffic stop where the passenger got out of a vehicle and came towards him.

MacGillivray says he had pulled the couple over near Halifax last September simply to warn them that they were travelling over the speed limit.

He says he grabbed Angela Acorn’s wrist after she continued towards him, ignoring repeated warnings to return to her vehicle, which was pulled over on the shoulder of a busy highway.

He says as he struggled to control Acorn, who was yelling, her partner Graham Labonte also left the vehicle and started towards him.

MacGillivray says he believed he was in danger of physical harm from the much larger Labonte so he unbuttoned the retention flap on the top of his handgun holster.

He says Labonte then backed off.

MacGillivray told the hearing that had he known the traffic stop was going to unfold the way it did he would never have pulled the couple over.