Yellowknife mother says RCMP deleted video of officer assaulting stepson

Patricia Lafferty says an RCMP officer threatened to arrest her unless she turned over a phone she used to videotape the officer allegedly slamming her stepson's legs in a patrol car door.

RCMP say video from a bystander was obtained 'with permission' to assist in court process

Patricia Lafferty says an RCMP officer slammed a cruiser door on the legs of her stepson, then threatened to arrest her after noticing she had videotaped the incident. (Richard Gleeson/CBC)

A Yellowknife mom says an RCMP officer threatened to arrest her unless she turned over a phone she used to videotape the officer allegedly assaulting her stepson.

Patricia Lafferty says her stepson told her that a police officer punched him in the face after chasing him down and arresting him. Lafferty took this photo of the spot where she says her stepson was arrested. (Patricia Lafferty)

"He said, 'Give me the phone, that's evidence,'" said Patricia Lafferty. "I said, 'No,' and turned the power off."

"He said, 'I'm going to arrest you.' Then he grabbed the phone from me. One cop put my hands behind my back. And then I was like, 'OK then, OK then, I'll delete the video.'"

Lafferty says the incident happened about 10:30 Wednesday night outside her 49 Street home. The RCMP officer had arrived a few minutes earlier to charge her stepson for not reporting to police within 48 hours of his release on bail. Lafferty says her stepson, Tristan Rabesca, fled when the RCMP officer arrived.

The officer caught Rabesca, 19, in the backyard of a house a few doors down the street. In the meantime, Lafferty says two other police vehicles and four more officers arrived. As her son was being led back to the police truck, Lafferty says he told her the officer who caught him had punched him in the face. His face was covered in blood.

That's when she got her younger son's phone and started videotaping the scene. The officer put her handcuffed stepson in a police vehicle.

"His feet was hanging out one side. The one cop tried to kick his feet in, but that didn't happen. Then he just tried to slam the door, while his feet were still there," she said.

He just tried to slam the door, while his feet were still there.- Patricia Lafferty

"Some of the cops saw me recording and they never said nothing until that one cop saw it, the one who was slamming the door on his feet."

Lafferty said the officer demanded the video.

After initially refusing, then being threatened with arrest, she ordered her younger son to unlock the phone and allowed the officer to delete the video.

Lafferty said the officers initially said they would keep the phone, but after her son pleaded for it back, they returned it. The video is no longer on it.

Officer suffered exposure during arrest

On Thursday afternoon CBC News requested an interview with the Yellowknife RCMP about the allegations.

On Friday the RCMP issued a press release confirming that they obtained a video of the incident from a bystander "with their permission, as evidence to support the judicial process. The cell phone was immediately returned to the owner."

The statement said that Tristan Rabesca fled the scene, resisted arrest and assaulted a police officer. RCMP say an officer used a conducted energy weapon (commonly referred to as a Taser), which was not effective.

A Yellowknife mom says RCMP officers demanded a video she shot of them arresting her stepson outside their home on 49 Street Wednesday night. (Richard Gleeson/CBC)

"This incident highlights the challenges and dangers an RCMP officer can be subjected to in the course of their duties.  A simple arrest turned into a pursuit of the subject in freezing cold temperatures over rough terrain," said spokesperson Marie York-Condon in the statement.

"We are thankful the officer only suffered exposure during this encounter and that no one was seriously injured."

In court on Thursday, Rabesca had cuts and bruising on his nose, forehead and cheek. He has been charged with assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and several breaches of his bail conditions.

RCMP say Rabesca is being held in custody pending his next court appearance on Dec. 11.