North

Yellowknife woman 'shaken' after RCMP officer draws gun on her

Mika Kondo says she was parked in downtown Yellowknife waiting for a friend when she suddenly saw a man was standing outside her car window pointing a handgun at her head.

'I thought he was trying to rob me,' says woman of RCMP officer in case of mistaken identity

Twenty-eight year-old Mika Kondo stands where she was parked on December 3 when an officer approached her car with his gun drawn. (Hilary Bird/CBC)

A Yellowknife woman says she's terrified of police after an RCMP officer pulled his gun on her last month. 

On Dec. 3 at 7 p.m., 28-year-old Mika Kondo said she was parked outside of the Mary Murphy Home in downtown Yellowknife waiting for a friend. 

Kondo said she looked down at her feet for a moment and when she looked up again a man was standing outside her driver's side car window pointing a handgun at her head.

"I thought he was trying to rob me or just some crazy person trying to kill random people, that was my first thought," Kondo said.

Kondo, who moved to Yellowknife three years ago from Japan, said the man started yelling and reached for and opened her driver side door. She said her sister, who was in the back seat, reached forward and slammed the door closed and immediately locked it.

While still pointing the gun at her, Kondo said the man used his other hand to hold up his RCMP badge.

"He looked like [he was] under cover. From my angle, I couldn't see if he was in uniform."

Kondo said she opened her door and put her hands up in the air.

I don't think he should have pulled a gun out right away.- Mika Kondo

 

She said the officer continued to point his gun at her while he questioned her about where she bought her car and how long she had owned it.

"I was really panicked and my voice was really shaking. I was shaken physically."  

Kondo said that's when the officer lowered his weapon.

"He said 'it's ok, it's ok' and then he left and he ran back to the vehicle."

Kondo said the officer was driving a black SUV and didn't ask for her name or contact details.

"I didn't really know what was going on ... what [had] just happened."

A file photo of downtown Yellowknife. Mika Kondo says she was parked outside the Mary Murphy Home on Dec. 3, when an officer pointed a handgun at her outside of her car window. (Walter Strong/CBC)

The gravity of the incident wouldn't hit her until she got home an hour later.

"I was crying.... I was furious that he did it to me. I didn't know why and he didn't explain it to me or didn't apologize to me," Kondo said.

"I don't think he should have pulled a gun out right away without knowing if I am the [person he was looking for]. He threatened me and traumatized an innocent person," Kondo added.

"I keep having nightmares and even like speaking about it now my voice is like starting to shake. I'm really scared of it now. Like all the police officers, if I see [them] I feel scared."

Officer followed training, did 'risk assessment'

RCMP G Division spokesperson, Marie York-Condon, confirmed in an email on Dec. 31 to CBC that the officer did pull his gun on Kondo.

York-Condon wrote that, on Dec. 3, RCMP received a call about two people who were "potentially linked to drug trafficking" at a Yellowknife apartment. Police were given the description of a vehicle and officers were told to be "on the look out."

Having the colour of a car and then walking up to it with your gun drawn just isn't good enough.- Kevin Walby, University of Winnipeg associate professor

In an updated response Tuesday, York-Condon clarified that police received another call that the suspects had returned to that apartment. On route to the apartment, officers saw Kondo's car, which apparently matched the description of the car they were looking for. 

She reiterated that officers had safety concerns, because the suspects were believed to be involved in drug trafficking. 

"As such, the member took precautions as per training on risk assessment, and approached the vehicle with firearm drawn. This happens from time to time given the type of files/complaints members may respond to and is consistent with regular training for officer safety," York-Condon wrote in the email response last week.

'Undermines the trust' in police: professor

But Kevin Walby, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Winnipeg, says the officer's approach was likely an "excessive use of police power."

Kevin Walby is an associate professor of criminal justice at the University Winnipeg. He says the officer actions may have constituted an abuse of authority. (Submitted by Kevin Walby)

"It doesn't seem like they established ... that the person inside the car was indeed the person they were looking for, that the car was indeed the car they were looking for, and that the person inside the car was such a harm to the public or to the officer that the gun needed to be drawn," Walby said. 

"None of those facts are there. None of them at all. They were operating based on mere suspicion and in Canadian policing, having the colour of a car and then walking up to it with your gun drawn just isn't good enough."

Walby says incidents like this have damaging consequences to the reputation of police forces across the country.  

"It undermines their claim to be providing safety for the community. It undermines the trust and legitimacy that citizens bestow upon police."

The RCMP have invited Kondo to come to the Yellowknife detachment to have the officer apologize to her in person. Kondo turned down the offer saying she hopes to never see the officer again.

About the Author

Hilary Bird

Reporter

Hilary Bird is a reporter with CBC North in Yellowknife. She has been reporting on Indigenous issues and politics for almost a decade and has won several national and international awards for her work. Hilary can be reached at hilary.bird@cbc.ca

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