The RCMP’s public complaints commission has condemned an officer’s use of a taser on a handcuffed 15-year-old girl who was being restrained by four guards.
Commission chairman Paul Kennedy denounced the use of the taser – and the followup investigation by the RCMP – in an incident in Yellowknife in March 2007. The investigation had many parallels to the case against RCMP officers who used a taser on Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport on Oct. 14, 2007. Dziekanski died following the incident.
The latest investigation deals with a female young offender at the Arctic Tern Youth Facility who was refusing to cooperate with the facility’s guards. The young woman, whose indentify cannot be released, continued to be uncooperative when RCMP officer Const. Noella Cockney arrived and threatened to use the conductive energy weapon on her.
When the teen still refused to comply, she was given a five-second jolt from the taser even though she was being restrained and not posing a threat.
The commission found the incident at the youth facility did not warrant the use of the taser and the RCMP officer’s certification to use the weapon had expired.
When the girl’s mother complained about her daughter’s treatment to the local detachment, the commission further found the RCMP’s own investigation into the incident was deficient because of its lack of depth, timeliness and management.
The commission listed 24 findings and 14 recommendations in its report. RCMP commissioner William Elliot accepted most of the recommendations from the commission.
Kennedy wrote that the RCMP did not have a “gold” standard for internal investigations and that its approach is “flawed and inconsistent.”
He noted that the girl’s mother made a complaint to the RCMP three weeks after the incident but did not get a formal response until 21 months had passed.
Kennedy wrote in his report that, “The RCMP has reached a crossroads in its development as a policing agency. How it responds to the challenges to its reputation as a world-renowned agency will be determined … by embracing a philosophy of change.”