CTVNews.ca, Wednesday Sep. 28, 2011 7:57 AM PT
The BC Civil Liberties Association is calling for an independent investigation after a 17-year-old Williams Lake woman said she was handcuffed and beaten by RCMP when she asked the officers for help.
Jamie Haller told CTV B.C. she was being chased by gang members on Sept. 10 when she stopped a passerby and asked her to call police. The officers quickly arrived on the scene, but instead of helping Haller, she claims they quickly placed her in handcuffs, “roughed” her up and placed her in the back of a police cruiser.
Haller admits she became angry and started kicking the cruiser’s window.
“One guy jumped in and was holding my legs down, the other guy was holding my upper body and he was punching me in the face, I know he must have punched me more than six times,” Haller told CTV British Columbia.
She added: “I felt so afraid of the cops, more than I was of the people who were chasing me.”
Haller’s mother, Martina Jeff, said she arrived on the scene during the incident and was shocked by what was happening.
“I stood there helpless, I didn’t know what to do,” she said.
Photos, purportedly taken after the incident and provided to CTV, showed Haller with a black eye, cut lip, and significant swelling and bruising on the left side of her face.
Haller was released by police the day after the alleged incident, without charge and without having received any medical attention, the BC Civil Liberties Association said.
Haller said she missed a week of school and work due to the injuries she sustained.
The BCCLA is calling for an independent probe into what took place in the northern B.C. town.
“When I think about an allegation involving a 17-year-old girl, the allegation was she was handcuffed at the time, it leads automatically to the question ‘was that force necessary?’ And that will be the core question of this investigation,” said David Eby, executive director of the organization.
The BCCLA said in a statement that the public’s trust in the RCMP has been broken, and immediate efforts are needed to restore that trust.
“If wrongs were committed, the public wants to know that they will be dealt with in accordance with the law — whether those involved are employed as law enforcement officers or are members of the public,” said Robert Holmes, Q.C., president of the BCCLA.
“The community needs to trust that when someone calls 911 for the police, they will be treated with respect and not end up in hospital because of injuries sustained due to police actions.”
As of Tuesday night, the RCMP was not commenting on the incident.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Norma Reid