Credit to Author: Mack Lamoureux| Date: Tue, 27 Oct 2020 16:49:34 GMT
RCMP have launched an internal investigation after footage showed an officer kicking and punching a downed suspect near Williams Lake, a small town in central British Columbia.
A video of the incident shared on Facebook on Sunday shows a truck and multiple police vehicles drive into the wrong side of the highway and stop at a ditch near Williams Lake. A man gets out of the truck, runs to the bottom of the ditch, and sits down. A police officer reaches him and roughly takes him to the ground.
Then a second police officer sprints towards the suspect and kicks him at least twice, with one kick , appearing to strike him in the head. The officer then starts punching the suspect, who already has the first police officer on top of him.
"Oh no, don't do that," a man’s voice off camera says as the second officer kicks the man. "And now he's punching him."
Charli Fortier, who recorded the incident, rolls down her window and yells to the officers that she’s filming.
“Police brutality is real when they deal with us qelmúcw!” wrote Fortier in her Facebook post. (Qelmúcw is a Secwepemc term used to describe the Indigenous peoples of that area.) “But as you can see, this man CLEARLY surrendered. Then gets jumped by the police.”
"When you see the police dealing with our people, ALWAYS film.”
VICE News has reached out to Fortier for a statement but has yet to hear back.
B.C. RCMP confirmed to VICE News that they are reviewing the actions of the officers’ use of force and are launching an internal code of conduct investigation. But RCMP North District Chief Supt. Warren Brown said in a statement that the video doesn’t give the full story of what happened.
Brown said the arrest came after someone reported a truck swerving all over the road at varying speeds. RCMP officers realized that, in a previous stop, the driver was found to have a handgun on him. When police spotted the vehicle and attempted to pull it over, Brown said the driver took off and led them on a dangerous high-speed chase. Eventually, the officers were able to use a spike strip to stop him.
The man pulled over to the other side of the highway to stop, which is when the filming begins. Brown said that the driver “appeared to be surrendering” in the embankment.
“He refused to comply with the officer’s commands to show his hands and a struggle ensued, with the officer attempting to pull the man’s hands from underneath him, in order to gain control and handcuff him,” said Brown. “A second responding officer, who was aware the man could be armed and was not complying with the initial officer’s commands, utilized several strikes including one with his foot to rapidly gain control of the suspect and resolve the situation.”
The suspect was arrested and remains in police custody on seven outstanding warrants. Police did not find a handgun on him.
Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair of the Tŝilhqot'in National Government with headquarters in Williams Lake, told the CBC that he is “particularly concerned by indications that the man attacked by RCMP in this video is Indigenous.”
"We are shocked and outraged by the police violence captured in this video,” said Alphonse. “Unfortunately, the threat of unwarranted, unnecessary violence from the RCMP is a reality that Indigenous peoples live with every day."
VICE News was not able to independently confirm the man's identity.
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