Nfld. & Labrador

RCMP admit to providing wrong information about officers entering Mount Moriah home

A Mount Moriah, N.L., mother is pushing back against the RCMP’s explanation of why two officers entered her home without permission through an unlocked door early Sunday morning.

Police said earlier this week they rang the doorbell before going in — but the house doesn't have one

Cortney Pike stands inside the frame of the door of her home, where she says two RCMP officers entered unannounced around 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning. (Troy Turner/CBC)

The RCMP admitted Friday that their explanation earlier this week for why two officers entered a Mount Moriah home without permission contained some wrong information.

Officers looking for a missing youth went into the western Newfoundland home early Sunday morning and questioned an 11-year-old girl before her parents were aware — or even awake. In a statement Tuesday, the RCMP said, "After a sustained period of knocking, doorbell ringing and verbal communication, police entered the residence through an unlocked door, verbally announcing their presence." 

In a interview with CBC News on Thursday, the girl's mother, Cortney Pike pushed back on that version of events, saying the claim that officers rang her doorbell especially surprised her.

"We don't have a doorbell. This house has never had a doorbell. Ever," she said. "I just feel like they're trying to justify their reason for coming into my home," she said.

Cortney Pike provided these photos of the doors of her house to CBC News. Neither door appears to have a doorbell. In a statement Tuesday, the RCMP said the officers rang a doorbell before entering. On Friday, police said the original officers' report didn't mention ringing a doorbell. (Submitted by Cortney Pike)

On Friday, the police admitted the reference to ringing a doorbell in Tuesday's statement was wrong.

An email sent by the RCMP to CBC News on Friday morning said the statement earlier in the week "was created by our unit here in St. John's in consultation with the detachment in Corner Brook. Following your inquiry into this response, we note that there was no mention in the responding officers' report of a doorbell being rang. The remainder of the response, including a sustained period of door knocking and verbal communication, is completely accurate."

Earlier this week, Pike told CBC News she was awoken around 5:30 a.m. NT on Sunday to the sounds of footsteps and voices inside her western Newfoundland home — footsteps and voices that belonged to two RCMP officers who had entered her home through an unlocked door. 

Pike said the officers woke her 11-year-old daughter and questioned her while shining a flashlight in her face.

Pike said she would have heard if the officers had been knocking and making noise prior to entering, or her dog would have started barking.

"They obviously had to sneak in very quietly," she said.

The statement from the RCMP says the officers entered the home because they were looking for a missing 17-year-old youth. The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, which has jurisdiction in nearby Corner Brook, said the youth was later found safe.

'Very unusual': CCLA

Abby Deshman, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association's criminal justice program director, said the incident is concerning.

"It seems very unusual for the police to have entered a house in the night and spoken directly to a minor without asking where their parents were," she said.

Abby Deshman, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association's criminal justice program director, says the incident described by Pike is concerning. (CBC)

Deshman said the police are allowed to enter a home without permission, but only in certain urgent or life-threatening situations, or if they have specific evidence. 

"They can't just wander into someone's house because there's been a missing person's report. They need more than that."

Deshman said in Newfoundland and Labrador, a judge can also grant police permission to enter a home, but there's been no indication that happened. 

'It really upset me'

Deshman said situations like the one described by Pike aren't always reported.

"We certainly hear, though, from people in communities — and in particular marginalized and racialized communities — that they feel that their rights are violated on a regular basis by police," she said.

Pike said she hasn't heard from the police since the incident, but has made a formal complaint with the RCMP. She said she's also been in contact with legal counsel regarding the incident and is considering filing a lawsuit.

Pike said she feels like the statement from the RCMP, which she first saw through media reports, was meant to make her look like a liar. She said she wants a public apology.

"I had no reason to make up a story like this, you know what I mean? They came into my daughter's bedroom and it really upset me."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Troy Turner and Lukas Wall

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