NEWS RELEASE · 12th June 2012
The BCCLA says three families who called the RCMP for assistance with family members over a five week period are now coping with major injuries caused during the RCMP intervention. The injured include a 15 year old girl in Prince Rupert whose arm was broken by an RCMP officer; Robert Wright who suffered a serious head and brain injury while in Terrace RCMP cells after his wife called police out of concern for his safety; and, William Watts, who received serious head injuries in Terrace when he was arrested after calling police for assistance with his sister.
Two of the incidents are being investigated by outside police forces, one by an outside RCMP detachment. All of the injured, and their families, are First Nations, and all live in the northwest corner of BC.
“We are deeply concerned that one incident requiring independent investigation by an outside police force would take place in a five week period in this sparsely populated area, let alone three,” said Robert Holmes, Q.C., President of the BCCLA. “All of the incidents involve families of Aboriginal descent, all called the RCMP for help with a family member, each case resulted in serious injury, and each took place in a specific geographic area over a short period of time. These factors suggest to us that there is a serious systemic problem.”
Non-RCMP municipal police departments in BC, who provide service to 1.29 million people, must report injuries which require medical treatment to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner. In all of 2012, they reported 263 incidents, or one incident per 4,900 people annually.
The population served by the RCMP in the neighbouring communities of Terrace (11,794), Kitimat (9,317) and Prince Rupert (13,005) is 34,116. If the current rate of injury holds, the RCMP serving these communities will be involved in 31 serious police-related injuries in the year, a rate of one incident for every 1,100 people, almost five times as high as the serious injury rate for municipal departments in BC.
“These cases can’t be looked at in isolation by investigators, because they are not looked at in isolation by the community,” said Holmes. “No group in society should be afraid that calling the police for help is more likely to result in serious injury for a family member or friend than a peaceful resolution of a problem. Yet many First Nations people have or are developing that view. That’s a systemic problem. Effective policing requires that the RCMP work on training for its officers to prevent these incidents and rebuilding the trust that is so essential to their role. What they’re doing right now isn’t working.”
On April 4, 2012, a 15 year old Indigenous girl’s arm was broken when she was being arrested by an RCMP officer in Prince Rupert after her family called 911 for assistance. Delta Police are investigating.
On April 21, 2012, Robert Wright, a 47 year old Indigenous man taken into custody in Terrace cells after his wife called police for assistance, was taken out of cells by air ambulance with a serious head injury. He has recently come out of the coma he is in, but is seriously brain injured. New Westminster Police are investigating the incident.
On May 15, 2012, William Watts, a 36 year old Indigenous man received multiple head injuries and alleges he was punched after he was handcuffed, subjected to racial taunts, and had his head put in a bag by police. This after he called 911 for assistance with a family member. The BCCLA is calling for an independent investigation of this incident.
Shane Parker after encounter with Terrace RCMP
Rob Wright after tracheotomy getting kiss from his wife while in a coma
Comment by Phillip Stewart on 18th June 2012
How many more have to suffer from police brutality before someone dies from this crime against society. Police who break the law should lose their right to be police officers. They would definitely fail any future criminal record check. They would be better suited cleaning manure.
colonialism, racial hierarchy, and Rodney King
Comment by Christie Brown on 17th June 2012
This article and these comments got me thinking about how after people are colonized, they sit at the bottom of a racial hierarchy. They are degraded and powerless in many ways for generations.
Police brutality and racist bias in criminal justice systems exist all over the world. I guess though, the question isn't so much, "Why are levels of police brutality and bias against First Nations so high in present day B.C.?" as, "How can we most effectively make people aware of this and reduce it".
The history of people from African countries forced into slavery and sitting at the bottom of American racial hierarchy is similar. For the last few days, thoughts of Rodney King's cases have drifted through my mind and I've meant to go searching for the video of his beating. Didn't get around to it until I saw it in a report of his death today: http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/Shows/1221254309/ID=2246914191
Comment by Christie Brown on 14th June 2012
Thank you for showing us these unpopular sides of local tragedies and highlighting really upsetting racial and power issues. And thank God for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. Maybe in a few generations there will be less racism in B.C. and R.C.M.P. standards will earn them the trustworthy reputation many deserve.
Apparently one of my great grandfathers in Prince Rupert was a Scottish or Swedish R.C.M.P. officer who raped my Tsimshian great grandmother. Who was she supposed to report that to - THE POLICE?
My grandfather and his girlfriend's bodies washed up dead days after a boat party near Port Edward - his with some kind of wire or rope around his neck. It sounds like there was little to no police investigation, and for decades, my dad, who was 12, living in residential school at the time, thought his dad simply drowned. When he was finally a lawyer, an elderly person told him to dig up the police records and he was doubly traumatized. Had my grandfather not been just some poor Indian fisherman at the time, I believe the murder would have been investigated properly and the killer(s) charged.
I have positive stories about local R.C.M.P. too, but I'm most definitely not in the mood to list them right now, and they are more confidential than my family history.
He never bothered my sister ever again
Comment by Youth worker on 13th June 2012
A young officer kept approaching my younger sister at her residence on a daily basis at the same time. I came to Terrace once every two weeks. At this point, while visiting my sister, she came in from checking her mailbox crying because this Terrace RCMP member was harassing her saying racial comments. I told her I would be back the next day to see what she was talking about. The next day, this slickster in all his combat armor wear pulled up in his cruiser. I came walking out told him to roll his window down. I began to state my sisters concerns about him. As I got further into detail, I could see that he was shaking in his combat boots and his fancy combat gloves as I started a looking at his car number, his badge number and asked for his business card. He reached to grab his card, but sped off instead. He never bothered my sister ever again:) Stand up against them!
I'm the only police I call
Comment by A native on 13th June 2012
I won't call the police i tried once when this white lady that works at save on more foods almost hit me and my 2 year old daughter I called them they said there was nothing they could do. So now I will deal with the person that wrong me in my own way then I'll call them on myself
Google Terrace BC RCMP officer
Comment by Marcus Kendar on 13th June 2012
Reprimanded Alberta Mountie transferred to B.C.
Link to artice below
Terrace officer pleads guilty to assault
Terrace Officer charged with criminal harassment
RCMP shooting inquest underway in Terrace, B.C.
RCMP responding to 911 calls in B.C. accused of brutality towards aboriginals
'Investigation?'..... what a joke!
Comment by Gary Mills on 13th June 2012
Anybody without alzheimer's will already know that these 'investigations' are nothing more than delaying tactics and will go on and on until the incident is forgotten by the public. Then the results will come out and appear on some back page because the criminal pig will be found innocent by the flunkys doing the investigation. How many times does this have to happen before you people wake up to the fact you are just being played for suckers!
The only reason the cops 'investigate' these things is to shut down any discussion of the incident. When that kid was executed in the rcmp detachment I tried to write a letter to the editor at the local paper and my letter was refused because the matter was "under investigation". I commend you once again Merve for not going along with that BS.
And you know you cop apologists disgust me more than the criminal cops because you are the facilitators that over the decades have produced this organized criminal gang we erroneously call a police force. Instead of weeding these rogue criminals out of the force people like you have helped to keep them on the force. Even cops who try to be good can't miss the fact that the only consequences for criminal behavior is a paid vacation for as long as the 'investigation' takes to find you innocent. What kind of a deterrent is that?
And if your Canada means bowing ones head and acting like a slave around these "masters" in uniform then you can have it! Cops were created to serve the public NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. It is time they came off their pedestal and became one of us again. Until they become human again they deserve no respect whatsoever.
Yes, RCMP target Natives
Comment by Jules on 13th June 2012
Of course they do and anyone saying they don't either lives under a rock or is blind. It's difficult to drive around town any day without seeing evidence of it.
The RCMP are the real bad guys in town and I'd rather meet a drunk on the street than a thug passing as a cop.
The RCMP needs to be "taken out" and dismantled. Each town needs it's own force of local peace officers comprised of local people.
I'll Give Some Credit...
Comment by Roy Harding on 13th June 2012
I'll give credit for publishing comments which are critical of this publication. (I refer specifically to this and other "articles" recently published on the site relating to the RCMP)
But that's about as much credit as I'm prepared to give on this issue.
As far as being ashamed to live amongst us: As a veteran of various UN Peacekeeping and NATO led "peace making" missions, as well as a UN sanctioned war - I've seen some REAL stupidity, abuses of power, and local government sanctioned cruelty around the world. I've been ashamed to call myself a human being for at least 15 years.
Unfortunately, the profound ignorance, willful obtuseness, and hyperbolic caterwauling displayed on this (and other sites) has done nothing to alleviate my shame.
Brutality of the RCMP
Comment by Stan Squires on 13th June 2012
I am from vancouver and i wanted to say that this brutality by the RCMP is not new.The gov. allows the RCMP to get away with it.The RCMP is racist to begin with and they should be condemned by all progressive people in canada.The RCMP is used to break strikes and break up political rallies as well as beat up Native people.They are the enemy of the working class.
These fellows need more training!
Comment by Janice Robinson on 13th June 2012
I have worked in the justice system (federal institutions, and outside alongside parole and probation officers), and understand the potential harm that can come our way during a day's work. I was taken hostage within a federal prison, and lived to tell you about it. I am not of the "hug-a-thug" variety.
Also, while I was working with the local F.A.S.T. team (suicide interventionists/post-ventionists), an R.N. called me from the emergency department..."You better come quick Janice! We have a situation here." When I arrived, the suicidal person was surrounded by four aggitated (and hollaring) RCMP male members. The victim was scared, angry, basically naked now, bruised, hog-tied, and had the mesh bag around the head. "Help me!" I asked the female RCMP member, who was observing the situation outside the door, "Who is in charge?" "I am, I guess," was her reply.
I stood at the doorway, and hollared, "What's going on here!!' The four constables shut up, and turned to look at me. "I was spit in the eye!" one wailed.
"That is NO REASON TO BECOME EMOTIONAL." was my response to him. I stayed on the scene until the victim was placed in a hospital room upstairs. I reported the incident to the appropriate person at the detachment, and have heard nothing from them since, about this incident.
These inappropriate, emotional reactions (not responses) by these RCMP rookies place themselves in disrepute, and society at risk. This is symptomatic of a total lack of training and experience.
While perusing these cases, I note that none of these alleged victims of police violence were particularly violent people. And, believe me....I have been in the presence of some very violent offenders.
It can be dangerous to be in the presence of an on-duty policeman (with a gun, a taser, an attitude and a ready fist) who is either emotionally caught up by the situation, or afraid.
Absence of evidence? Poppycock!
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 13th June 2012
Just like the good fellow in Kelowna who got a good boot to the head. Just like the dead guy at the Vancouver airport. Just like Mr. Jackson who was shot dead in the Hazeltons, like Ian Bush who apparently shot himself in the back of the head.
People have physical bruises, trauma injuries, broken limbs and left in a coma, an you claim there is an absense of evidence. Lets see how does that go no - - - ROTFLMFAO
And it is the Terrace Daily who are scaring people too. Yup. Wow. Where's a leader like Hitler when the population has been completely prepared for his agenda? They are truly like sheep, ready to torment their friends and neighbours who do not follow along.
Still embarrased to be living among you
Comment by Samantha. on 13th June 2012
So we have some that assume all police are evil and some that assume every person who is assualted must have done something wrong.
We can absolutley retort that not all police are evil.
So would it not make sense that it is possible that not all people assualted are guilty of your assumptions?
Say Mr. Watts did in fact disrespect police. Doese that constitute those injuries?
If I did that kind of damage to someone who spat at me or disrespected me (ASSUMING he DID either of those things) I would be arrested for assualt. Wearing a uniform does not automatically get you respect. It's how you behave in that uniform and with that authority that gains you respect.
Ridiculous Argument Merv
Comment by Jeff Rueger on 13th June 2012
At least you could produce a decent argument Merv before you slam your readers and fellow citizens. MaggieJo never claimed that people got injured by police for simply stating their views. I suspect even you would agree that some rules are necessary for the public good and that because some folks don't or won't follow those rules there is need for enforcement of those rules (again for the public good). The issue here is whether or not the RCMP have exceeded what is necessary or required to enforce those rules, and whether or not the injured people were obeying those rules. From my view not all the evidence has yet been provided to come to a decent conclusion. The RCMP side of events has not been made public yet (that's why there is an investigation) ... but of course you seem to have come to a conclusion in the absence of all the evidence ...
Dear Maggie, You read this website.
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 13th June 2012
We do not conform. We do not jump when we are told to jump. We raise the hackles of many. We do it unintentionally and yes, deliberately too. Should we expect to get beat up? If I argued with you or your stance would you expect me to punch you in the head?
Only brutal military police do that. There is not a single excuse. Your attitude is reprehensible as is that of many others. Bullies beat people up. I am ashamed to live amongst you.
Comment by MaggieJo Johnson on 12th June 2012
In all my days living in this area...when we have ever called the RCMP for assistance...every single time the interaction was always polite, prompt and respectful. And surprise, surprise - NO injuries sustained.
One has to wonder how people are injured in Police custody. All anyone really has to do is simply comply to being handcuffed without resistance and promptly call a lawyer. Clap, clap - done! Not rocket science, people.
If they resist arrest by kicking a RCMP member in the groin or spitting in their face or taking a biting chunk outta their forearm while the offenders are infected with potential diseases (remember these past posted stories?)... Sorry, but sometimes there may be a struggle involved; hence some injuries.
That being said, I do NOT condone violence on any part either towards the RCMP or vise versa. But, come on. For someone to sustain injuries as expressed in this article? One can only assume they fought back relentlessly and in attempts to be "controlled" lest they hurt themselves or others...there may have been injuries involved. We act like hooligans and then when we get injured? We sue the crap outta the closest guy!
Good God. Who raises these people?!
Interesting use of statistics
Comment by Jeff Rueger on 12th June 2012
Of course one can prove almost anything with statistics ... and especially if you make bizarre assumptions. Suppose that the three cases reported in this article are the ONLY cases of injuries requiring medical treatment while in police custody in the NW for the entire year. Then the rate of such injury is 1 for every 11,372 people ... more than twice as good as the rate for municipal police forces in BC. To assume that the rate of such injuries will continue for the rest of the year is ludicrous. How about telling us what the rate has been for the past few years? How about comparing apples to apples? Assuming that policing in areas covered by municipal police forces is the same as in areas covered by the RCMP is also ludicrous.
While I certainly do not support violence against citizens by any police force, I prefer to wait for the results of investigations before passing my own judgement. I would much prefer that the BCCLA continue or step up the campaign for truly independent investigations of the police rather than slamming them before results of investigations are known. The BCCLA should confine themselves to advocating in favour of all civil liberties and especially the erosion of such liberties by governments and our digital age.