Threat claims shake police-aboriginal relations
A First Nations man's claim that Winnipeg police officers dumped him at the city's edge will cause a lot of damage, whether true or not, says a retired RCMP officer who once headed Manitoba's Aboriginal Policing Unit.
Former RCMP Sgt. Sam Anderson believes the allegations by Evan Maud will lead to more stereotyping of police and weaken the relationship between officers and aboriginals.
"When you've got incidents like this, allegedly or not, it goes out there in the public and … it reinforces the minds of First Nations people that sometimes police are not our friends," said Anderson, who is originally from Dauphin River First Nation.
"It reinforces the stereotype of the police from our people and it's hard to repair that harm when the harm has been done."
The Winnipeg Police Service needs to act quickly to determine what happened and the investigation must be completely transparent, especially to aboriginal leaders, Anderson said.
Maud, 20, claims he was waiting for a transit bus near Main Street and Magnus Avenue on Dec. 3 when he was approached by an two men inside a black car that he believes was an unmarked undercover police vehicle.
One of the men wore a jacket marked with "police" on it and the car had a computer, police radio and a partition between the front and back seats, Maud said.
He alleges he told the men to take him to the drunk tank but instead, they drove him to the southern outskirts of the city, told him to get out and took his jacket.
They then told him to run, chasing close behind and threatening to shock him with a stun gun, Maud and his family told media on Wednesday.
"I was like crying, I was crying so hard like I was like, ' why are you guys doing that to me?'" Maud said.
The men then drove off, leaving Maud to find his way home.
Went to restaurant
Maud walked until he could catch a bus. He took it the to the Wolseley neighbourhood then walked into The Nook, a restaurant on Sherbrook Street.
He asked someone the time, and was told it was 7:35 a.m., then he asked for more bus fare so he could get home to the Elmwood neighbourhood.
A staff member at The Nook confirmed to CBC News that Maud was there on Friday between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. She said Maud approached two women sitting by the door for change.
He was only wearing a sweater and was talking about having to go to school in Elmwood.
One of those women confirmed to CBC News on Thursday that Maud asked her for money for the bus.
The staffer, who did not want her name published, said she recognized Maud after the media reports came out this week.
Maud's family said Wednesday they are afraid to deal with the police directly, so they have asked the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to act as an intermediary.
"It's very discouraging, very disappointing that the actions of a few can discredit and destroy those relationships [First Nations people have with the police]," said AMC Grand Chief Ron Evans.
Maud's uncle, Joseph Maud, said a complaint would be filed with the Law Enforcement Review Agency, a provincially mandated, independent investigative body that investigates non-criminal complaints about municipal police officers in Manitoba.
Police chief Keith McCaskill said Thursday investigators are using information in the media reports but until they get the full story from Maud himself, they are limited in what they can do.
"I think the public has a right to know what's going on, but we have to get the details from Mr. Maud so we can investigate his allegations very, very thoroughly, then tell the public this is the facts," he said.
"We want him to come forward."
The police force has 1,300 officers doing the best they can but allegations like these can undermine the service as a whole, McCaskill said.