The BCCLA has learned that Williams Lake RCMP Constable Andy Yung is currently on trial in relation to an incident where a 17 year old First Nations girl was punched in the face, allegedly while handcuffed. The officer is facing a charge of assault, and testimony began yesterday in Williams Lake Provincial Court.
Jamie Haller alleges she was running from a gang and calling for assistance when she was arrested, placed in the back of a police car, and was then punched in the face by a member of the RCMP.
Following that incident, the BCCLA raised concerns about three further incidents in the Northwest of the province involving First Nations families calling for assistance and family members being seriously injured as a result, one involving a 15 year old girl whose arm was broken by an RCMP officer. One of the cases resulted in investigators recommending criminal charges, and the other resulted in discipline for the involved officer.
“The BCCLA continues to have deep concerns about what happens when Indigenous people in the North and Interior of this province call 911 for help,” said Lindsay Lyster, President of the BCCLA. “No matter the verdict of the criminal trial or the discipline processes here, the RCMP faces a lack of public confidence in the North that they need to address in a real and a visible way.”
Today, Jamie Haller’s mother will testify, and tomorrow, Jamie herself is scheduled take the stand to testify against the officer.
“This girl is incredibly brave for bringing forward her complaint, and for sticking with it to this level,” said Lyster. “But it shouldn’t be up to Jamie Haller to hold officers in the North accountable. The RCMP needs to figure out what is going on in the North of this province and solve this problem.”
The BCCLA is not aware of any system-wide review by the RCMP of public confidence in the force among First Nations communities, or of use of force incidents involving its officers, despite a grossly disproportionate number of serious complaints about officer conduct coming to the BCCLA from the area.
To the knowledge of the BCCLA, the RCMP has not collected or released police involved death statistics, use of force statistics, injury statistics, police discipline statistics, or any other accountability or public satisfaction statistics by detachment, making it impossible to identify systemic training or confidence issues.