Tony Smith appointed as observer for SiRT probe into alleged police assault of Santina Rao

The co-chair of restorative inquiry into the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children has been appointed as an observer as the province’s police watchdog investigates a police arrest that Santina Rao says left her with a broken wrist, a concussion and injuries to her neck and arms.

Tony Smith confirmed to Global News on Monday that he has been appointed as an observer for the Serious Incident Response Team’s (SiRT) investigation.

“I don’t have any power of laying charges,” Smith said in a phone interview. “I have powers of overseeing that the investigation is done properly and I have complete autonomy to speak on what my findings are.”

SiRT announced last month that they would investigate an incident that occurred on Jan. 15.

Rao, 23, alleges she was physically abused by Halifax Regional Police (HRP) after she was accused of “concealing items” at a Walmart on Mumford Road.

The mother of two told Global News she placed a bag underneath her children’s stroller and was putting items into it as she shopped. According to Rao, she paid for all her items at the electronics section except for her produce, which had to be weighed.

After paying for those items and then stopping at the toy section, Rao claims she was approached by HRP officers and Walmart staff, who claimed she was “concealing items.”

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