Tsilhqot’in leaders call for suspension of officers seen in controversial Williams Lake arrest 

By Rebecca Dyok

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Tsilhqot’in National Government is calling for an independent investigation and the immediate suspension of Williams Lake RCMP officers captured in a widely-shared video showing a controversial takedown and arrest of a suspect.

The footage, which has more than 4,000 shares since being posted Sunday, Oct. 25, shows a Mountie attempting to subdue a male suspect, who is believed to be Indigenous. Another RCMP officer arrives and appears to kick and then punch the suspect.

As her dad drove past the unfolding incident, Charli Fortier of the Simpcw First Nation hastily filmed the officers in which she can be heard yelling at them to stop.

“Unfortunately, the threat of the unwarranted, unnecessary violence from the RCMP is a reality that Indigenous peoples face,”

Tsilhqot’in tribal chair Chief Joe Alphonse said in a Oct. 26 news release.

“We demand a full, independent investigation into this incident and the immediate suspension of the officers that were involved, and we will not rest until there is accountability for this incident and an end to police brutality against Indigenous peoples.”

Upon learning of the arrest North District RCMP Commander Chief Superintendent Warren Brown announced on Oct. 26 that a review of the incident has been launched.

He added a code of conduct investigation has also been launched by Williams Lake RCMP Officer in Charge Insp. Jeff Pelley.

“Following a preliminary review, we can say that the civilian video, while it captures part of the arrest, does not provide the full-scope of the arrest and provides no context with respect to what precipitated the arrest,” Brown said.

The suspect was arrested without incident following a `high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase near Williams Lake.

Tyrell Giroux, 29, remains in custody, and faces charges including dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and resisting or obstructing a peace officer.

The Independent Civilian Review and Complaints for the RCMP confirmed it has received one complaint in regards to the video.

Both the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and B.C. Assembly of First Nations could not be reached for immediate comment.

Since the incident, Williams Lake First Nation Chief Willie Sellars said his community has been in discussion with Williams Lake RCMP.

Rebecca Dyok is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Williams Lake Tribune  . The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

 

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