A 61-year-old Smithers Wet'suwet'en elder is filing a formal complaint claiming police used excessive force when an officer shoved her to the ground for refusing to answer questions about an alleged theft.

Joseph said she visited a store last weekend where she talked to someone inside. Outside she said she was met by an RCMP officer who said he was investigating an alleged theft.

Surrey RCMP alleged assault

Irene Joseph shows the injury and bruising to her arm after she was taken down by an RCMP officer for refusing to cooperate with a theft investigation. (submitted by Irene Joseph)

She said the police officer wanted to know her name and the name of the person to whom she had been talking

"I forgot her name," she said in the newspaper report. "And then he was asking me for my name. And I said, 'I'm not going to give it to you. Why should I give it to you? What did I do wrong? I never did anything wrong

Joseph said she became upset about why she was being questioned and tried to get away. She said she was knocked down while trying to reach for her walker. The incident, captured in a photograph that appeared in the Smithers Interior News shows Joseph's walker to the right.​

Detained for ignoring verbal directions

Joseph said the officer went into her bag and retrieved her ID.

Smithers RCMP alleged assault

Irene Joseph displays marks to her arm after RCMP knocked her to the ground for "failing to comply with verbal direction." (submitted by Irene Joseph)

Smithers RCMP confirmed an incident did take place and told CBC News they were called to the scene of a theft in progress.

"Police detained an individual who did not comply with verbal direction," said police in a statement. "The police officer restrained the person when they resisted and called for a second officer."

B.C. Civil Liberties Association Policy Director Micheal Vonn said as far as she can tell, there was no legal basis for an arrest.

"As far as we know there was no compulsion for her to remain," she said. "She herself was not under arrest. The statement by the RCMP seems to indicate an attempt to resist a kind of arrest. We cannot understand the legal basis for the arrest in the first place."

RCMP said no criminal charges have been laid, but its investigation is ongoing.

With files from the Smithers Interior News and CBC's Jeff Harrington