BCCLA alleges 3 people injured by RCMP
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is calling for an investigation after they say three First Nations people who called the RCMP for assistance were injured by police.
According to the BCCLA, an RCMP officer broke a 15-year-old Prince Rupert girl's arm while arresting her on Apr. 4 after her family called 911 for assistance. The Delta Police Department is investigating.
The group also alleges two men — Robert Wright, 47, and William Watts, 36 — were injured by Mounties in Terrace, B.C.
Wright apparently suffered a serious head and brain injury while in police custody after his wife called police out of concern for his safety on Apr. 21. The New Westminster Police Department is investigating.
Watts allegedly received multiple head injuries and says he was punched after he was handcuffed, subjected to racial taunts, and had his head put in a bag by police after he called 911 for assistance with his sister on May 15.
"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," BCCLA president Robert Holmes.
"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."
Mounties allege grandstanding
RCMP Supt. Ray Bernoties issued a statement in response, saying the BCCLA press conference went ahead even though they had a meeting scheduled with the RCMP to address the concerns on Tuesday afternoon.
"I am disappointed that the BCCLA would grandstand on these files when they know full well that there are independent external investigations ongoing by the New Westminster Police, Delta Police and the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP," he said.
"The BCCLA would be the first to criticize the police, and has in the past, for speaking publicly about a complaint while it is still under investigation. If nothing else, they should hold themselves to their own standard. In light of the ongoing [investigations] I question their objective."
Bernoties went on to say the allegations are unsubstantiated at this point.
"If charges are laid against an RCMP member in any of these matters, we will proactively inform the public, as we do in every case of an RCMP member being charged," he said.