The son of a Squamish Nation chief was shot to death by police recently (“Squamish Nation chief’s son killed,” Chief, Feb. 7). No matter what the circumstances, too often police use deathly force or beat or rough up arrestees. In Whistler, I witnessed a rough arrest of a small native male by a husky RCMP constable last October.
On my way to the Whistler Post Office I noticed small native guy sitting at the back of the Post Office. He had really big glasses on. We spoke a bit. He appeared normal to me. Coming back, I saw an RCMP constable standing next to the native male. The constable yanked the native male up, spun him around and handcuffed him. In the process, he either hit him or swiped the male’s big glasses to the ground. I did not see whether his hand connected with the male’s head or just the glasses. He then fast-marched him, more or less dragging him toward his cruiser. The male was screaming that he was not resisting arrest and that the constable was hurting him. At the cruiser, the constable slammed him on the bumper and yanked one of male’s handcuffed hands down to frisk him. The man kept screaming that he was being hurt. Finally he was put in the cruiser. The constable went back to pick up the glasses that he swiped off the man’s face. I asked the constable for his name. He refused to give it to me, said he was doing an investigation and departed. That infuriated me. He was acting like in some dictatorial state where police could do whatever they wanted without having to identify themselves.
I went to the RCMP to file a complaint. I had a good talk with an RCMP sergeant. He explained to me a bit about arrest procedure. I can understand that arrests are tricky and sometimes even dangerous for the officer.
The arresting constable was called to explain what happened. He told me that they received a complaint, he investigated, spoke to the male, saw a bottle, took it, smelled alcohol and proceeded to arrest the man for being drunk. On my several direct questions about what happened to the glasses, how they ended up on the ground, the constable keep repeating that he did nothing improper. To me this was a blatantly evasive answer — neither denial nor confirmation. If I was making it up or if I was mistaken, I would expect him to deny it or provide a different explanation. But he couldn’t deny it in case I or somebody else had a video of the event. He would then be in a big trouble for lying.
The investigation of my complaint has been completed by the same RCMP detachment in Whistler that the constable was part of. As I expected, it was rejected. No explanation was forthcoming if and why glasses ended on the ground. Again — no denial, no confirmation. Police decide what questions to ask and what to investigate. It is high time that police forces in Canada stop being in charge investigating themselves.