British Columbia

B.C. woman claims RCMP broke her leg and left her suffering overnight in a jail cell

A Burns Lake, B.C., woman is demanding accountability after she says she suffered a broken leg during an arrest and was detained in a jail cell overnight despite pleas for medical help.

B.C.'s police watchdog agency is investigating RCMP's role in woman's alleged injury during an arrest

Lindsey Tom is demanding accountability after she says she suffered a broken leg during an arrest by RCMP officers and was left screaming in pain overnight in a jail cell. (Submitted by Lindsey Tom)

Lindsey Tom admits she resisted RCMP officers when they tried to remove her from her boyfriend's home last Thursday but alleges the force officers used was excessive and left her in hospital with a broken leg.

"They just grabbed me by my hand, and they were trying to get me to walk because I wouldn't walk. I wouldn't get in the vehicle, so they kicked me in the back of the leg, and they threw me in the vehicle."

Tom, 38, said it was a female officer who allegedly kicked her, causing her immense pain. She said she asked to be taken to the hospital.

In a statement, RCMP spokesperson Dawn Roberts wrote officers responded to a report of a dispute at a home and used physical control on a woman who was resisting arrest to get her into a police vehicle and then again at the RCMP detachment in Burns Lake, B.C., before she was put in a jail cell. 

"At about 5:25 a.m. the following morning, Emergency Health Services transported the woman to the hospital where she was confirmed to have suffered a serious but not life-threatening injury," Roberts wrote.

The RCMP declined to answer questions about the incident, saying it's now being investigated by B.C.'s Independent Investigations Office (IIO).

Lindsey Tom was transferred to the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia in Prince George where she is awaiting a second surgery to repair her broken right leg. (Submitted by Lindsey Tom)

Tom is now lying in a hospital bed with pins in her leg, waiting for a second surgery this weekend.

According to Tom, when she was first admitted, a doctor asked her why police hadn't brought her in earlier.

Tom also wants to know why she allegedly wasn't given medical attention immediately after her arrest and claims no one at the RCMP detachment took her cries for help seriously when she complained of her injury.

"I was screaming, crying, pleading for help ... telling them, please help me. I need the ambulance. One of them just looked and smirked at me and said it's just nothing; it's a sprain."

Tom said she has not been charged in relation to her arrest.

Her family is calling for accountability for how the RCMP allegedly treated her. 

Her uncle, former Lake Babine Nation chief Wilf Adam, said the family has contacted a lawyer, and he's hoping to speak to the commander of the RCMP detachment in Burns Lake.

"[My niece] is not a big woman at all; she's probably 120 pounds soaking wet and just a small person. Nobody, especially a woman, should go through pain like what she is going through right now."

B.C.'s Independent Investigations Office is investigating the actions of the RCMP to determine if any wrongdoing occurred during Lindsey Tom's arrest and her detention at the Burns Lake RCMP detachment (Google Maps)

The IIO's investigation into the incident is still in its early stages, said Chief Civilian Director Ron McDonald. 

"We will determine whether or not the actions of the police were justified, and if they were, we will release a public report, and if not, we will refer the matter for consideration of charges to the Crown prosecutor's office." 

In June, the IIO released a report about a case in which a man was held in a jail cell overnight at the Prince George RCMP detachment with a broken hip sustained during his arrest.

The report found a jail guard at the detachment ignored his screams for eight hours. 

The IIO said despite concerns the guard's conduct potentially amounted to torture, it didn't have the jurisdiction to suggest charges as the guard was a civilian employee and not a member of the police force. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brady Strachan

CBC Reporter

Brady Strachan is a CBC reporter based in Kelowna, B.C. Besides Kelowna, Strachan has covered stories for CBC News in Winnipeg, Brandon, Vancouver and internationally. Follow his tweets @BradyStrachan

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