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The B.C. Civil Liberties Association says,...
THE B.C. CIVIL LIBERTIES ASSOCIATION
says three separate cases that left First Nations people injured after RCMP were called could deter Aboriginal families from seeking police help. “The RCMP needs to look very carefully at its 911 response in domestic situations and fix it,” said association executive director David Eby. “People shouldn’t be afraid that when they call the RCMP for help, a family member will be seriously injured. And unfortunately, that is what is happening.”
Between April 4 and May 15 in northern B.C., two men and a girl were sent to hospital after Mounties responded to calls for help. “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,” Robert Holmes, Q.C., president of the BCCLA. On April 4, 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, 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 was in, but is seriously brain injured. New Westminster Police are investigating.
On May 15, 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. “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,” Holmes added.
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