HALIFAX — The "tragic" death of an elderly Halifax-area woman has been ruled a homicide, but investigators say no charges will be laid because the 77-year-old suspect is not criminally culpable.
An 86-year-old woman died on Sept. 3 following complications from an injury sustained during an altercation with a 77-year-old woman on June 7 at a nursing home, Halifax Regional Police said Thursday.
Spokeswoman Const. Carol McIsaac said the suspect is not criminally culpable due to her cognitive impairment.
She said it's a "tragic situation for everyone involved."
"It's hard on all of the families and all of the staff," said McIsaac on Thursday.
Police said the medical examiner called officers to Oakwood Terrace in Dartmouth on Sept. 4. The medical examiner conducted an autopsy on Sept. 5 and ruled the death a homicide.
Investigators said they have completed their investigation and in consultation with the Public Prosecution Service, they have decided not to lay charges against the 77-year-old woman.
"People get to a certain point with their medical issues and they don't intend to cause any harm, but unfortunately in these circumstances, sometimes these things happen and it's a very difficult situation," said McIsaac.
"In cases such as these when they're deemed to be not criminally culpable, it's determined that due to their mental health and cognitive abilities, they did not have the intent to cause injury or death to the other person involved in the incident."
Oakwood Terrace released a statement Thursday saying that the "risk posed to residents and staff at Oakwood Terrace has been mitigated."
"The incident was upsetting to the families and staff members and we please ask that you respect their privacy," the statement said.
Nova Scotia officials have seen a number of similar deaths in recent years, including eight seniors who died between 2008 and 2016 as "a result of violence,'' according to death reports.
In November, a 70-year-old man died at a nearby continuing care home in Dartmouth following an altercation with a 64-year-old man, a fellow resident of Clarmar Care Ltd.
Police say the man had suffered a "medical event" shortly after the altercation and died at the scene.
The 64-year-old-man was arrested, but was later released without charges.
In September 2015, a 71-year-old man fatally shoved an 81-year-old at Parkstone Enhanced Care residence in Halifax.
Three pushing deaths at nursing homes in the Halifax area between 2008 and 2016 were investigated as homicides and then dropped due to a lack of mental capacity.
The province's Health Department has had a challenging behaviour program since 2004, and it has experts to help nursing homes who are housing residents with violent or aggressive behaviours.
It also provides a special on-site training program with a curriculum that includes elements of how to decrease aggression.
The Canadian Press