Investigations clear RCMP of wrongdoing in N.W.T. Taser incident

Three investigations, including two by the RCMP, have cleared police and corrections officials of any wrongdoing in the use of a stun gun on a teenage girl in Inuvik, N.W.T., last year.

Three investigations, including two by the RCMP, have cleared police and corrections officials of any wrongdoing in the use of a stun gun on a teenage girl in Inuvik, N.W.T., last year.

The girl, who was 15 years old at the time of the March 13, 2007, incident, was an inmate at the Arctic Tern Young Offender Facility in Inuvik. She cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Corrections officials have said the teen was acting so aggressively that staff called in local RCMP, who used a Taser to subdue her. She was handcuffed on the floor when she was struck by the stun gun.

The RCMP has conducted two investigations into the Inuvik Taser incident: one that looked at whether a criminal charge should be laid against the constable who used the Taser on the girl, and one to determine if the officer had violated the force's code of conduct.

"The internal investigation under the RCMP Act was conducted in conjunction with the statutory investigation," Sgt. Wayne Norris told CBC News.

"There were no charges recommended, and there was no code of conduct issues found as a result of the investigation."

An Inuvik RCMP officer confirmed to CBC News that one of the investigators in the matter is a member of the local detachment.

But Norris would neither confirm nor deny that both investigations were carried out by members from the Inuvik detachment.

Norris said that, for the sake of impartiality, the results of the criminal investigation were sent to the Crown office in Whitehorse for an opinion on whether charges should be laid.

Impartiality questioned

But sending a report of the criminal investigation to the Crown for a second opinion is not always enough to claim impartiality, said the head of an independent agency that investigates serious allegations against Alberta police.

Clifton Purvis, director of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, said Crown prosecutors have to rely on the information given to them by police.

"They don't direct the police," Purvis said. "All they can do is review what the police bring them."

A third investigation done earlier by the N.W.T. Justice Department cleared corrections staff at the Arctic Tern facility of wrongdoing in the incident.

But despite that report's conclusion, it was not until nine months after the incident that senior officials learned the girl had been lying on her stomach on the floor, with her hands in handcuffs behind her back, when she was shocked by the Taser.

The girl's parents told CBC News they believe authorities are more interested in covering up the incident than investigating it.