Aboriginal Teen May Be Charged with Assaulting RCMP Officer With Her Face
She was handcuffed at the time, photos show her bruised and swollen face
by Perry Bulwer
I am being facetious with that title, of course, but this is no laughing matter. A 17 year old Aboriginal teen in Williams Lake, British Columbia who alleges, with supporting evidence and in the context of racist police misconduct in that town, that she was punched at least 6 times while handcuffed in the back of a police car, may be the one to face criminal assault charges rather than the police officer who committed the brutal assault.
She had turned to the police for protection, but instead needed protection from the police. So far, we have photos showing how the police protected her by beating her, (see the video) but no photos or any other evidence that has been made public of the harm or potential harm caused to the police officer she allegedly assaulted by force or threat. For all we know, she may have been merely blowing bubbles his way, which in Canada is enough to get you arrested for assault. Or the police could be lying, which wouldn't be the first time.
British Columbia differs from other jurisdictions in Canada in that it is not the police who formally lay criminal charges. Instead, the police provide a report of the alleged crime to Crown council (prosecutors) who review the case and decide whether charges are warranted. Thus the title to this post, since as far as I know there have not yet been assault charges laid against anyone involved. But there should be and they should not be against Jamie but the police officer, unless he was acting in self defense. However, it is difficult at this point to see how punching a girl in the face several times could be an appropriate self defense response when she was handcuffed in the back of a police car and posing no danger to anyone in that situation. But as usual in cases of police misconduct, it is the police who are investigating the police, whereas it ought to be an independent agency that investigates crimes allegedly committed by police officers, as the B.C. Civil Liberties Association calls for.
In the same news feed that alerted me to this case was another news report on the RCMP, this one concerning their soon to expire contract for services in British Columbia. The Federal government has given the Province an ultimatum to settle the negotiations and renew the contract or else it will withdraw the RCMP services. Perhaps that wouldn't be such a bad thing, given the attitude many RCMP officers seem to have towards the very citizens they are supposed to serve and protect. The only problem is that there is no guarantee any replacement force would be any better, because the problem with most police forces is not a few bad apples, but with systemic problems related to police recruitment, training, culture and oversight.
UPDATE October 6, 2011
News stories of police brutality often turn out worse than first reported after a bit of investigating. The CBC reported yesterday that the RCMP officer who assaulted Jamie Haller, the aboriginal teen in the article above, had previously faced a disciplinary hearing for disgraceful conduct. He was reprimanded and fined five days' pay, so you might assume the incident was not too serious. You would be wrong.
Three years ago, Const. Andy Yung was part of a security detail at an international summit meeting of defence ministers in Banff, Alberta. While off duty Yung got drunk, got into a phone argument with an ex-girlfriend, and fired his gun into the ceiling of his hotel room. No one was killed or injured, but they easily could have been. Yung carelessly endangered the lives of others, yet his punishment was the equivalent of telling him what a bad boy he was and denying him his allowance for a week. Boys will boys, after all.
If that had been anyone other than a police officer, however, there almost certainly would have been criminal charges laid for reckless use of a firearm. Section 86 of the Criminal Code of Canada sets out the crime of careless use of a firearm and the prescribed punishment. Last I checked, the Criminal Code still applies to the police. While police officers ought to be held to a higher standard than other citizens, because of the special powers they have, they are often not even held up to the same standard as regular citizens, but are able to skirt the law through internal disciplinary processes. Recklessly firing his gun through a hotel room ceiling into the room above, especially considering he was drunk, ought to have been a massive red flag for Const. Yung's superiors and enough to have him removed from the RCMP, or at the very least put him behind a desk for the rest of his career. He obviously had substance abuse and anger management problems, and a seriously bad attitude towards women. The RCMP brass failed in their duty to protect the public from an unstable constable, and Jamie Haller had to suffer as a result of their neglectful oversight, which supports the original conclusion I made in this post: the problem with most police forces is not a few bad apples, but with systemic problems related to police recruitment, training, culture and oversight.
Careless use of firearm, etc.
UPDATE MAY 12 2012
<b>Williams Lake mountie pleads not guilty to assault</b>
By Monica Lamb-Yorski - Williams Lake Tribune
Published: May 02, 2012
Const. Andy Yung has pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault, following a Sept. 10, 2011 incident when 17-year-old Jamie Haller was alleged to have sustained injuries while in Williams Lake RCMP custody.
The plea was entered this morning, May 2, in Williams Lake Provincial Court.
The next court date is set for May 16 at 1:30 p.m., at which time trial dates are expected to be fixed.
Both Crown and defence have requested a trial time of five days.
<b>Week-long trial dates set for court case involving Williams Lake mountie</b>
By Monica Lamb-Yorski - Williams Lake Tribune
Published: May 17, 2012
The trial dates have been set for the assault case involving Const. Andy Yung, who has pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault, following a Sept. 10, 2011 incident when 17-year-old Jamie Haller was alleged to have sustained injuries while in the custody of Williams Lake RCMP.
Yung will appear in court on Nov. 7 for a pre-trial conference with a judge regarding the confirmed trial dates of Jan. 21-25, 2013.
UPDATE: APRIL 22, 2013
[note: this result is typical of the kind of systemic injustice Indigenous people in Canada face everyday]
B.C. Mountie cleared of assault of First Nations teen
Const. Andy Yung acted reasonably during arrest of Jamie Haller: judge
CBC News April 22, 2013
A Williams Lake RCMP officer who punched a First Nations teen in the face has been acquitted of an assault charge.
On Monday, the judge ruled Const. Andy Yung acted reasonably during the arrest of 18-year-old Jamie Haller in 2011.
Haller's mother, Martina Jeff, was expecting a different result.
"It's been a hard, long, year and a half. We thought we were going to get justice. And everything just didn't go the way we thought it was going to go. It affected Jamie, it took a lot out of her," Jeff said.
During the trial, Yung admitted that he punched Haller in the face while she was handcuffed in the back seat of his police cruiser, but said he did so because she was drunk and agitated and had wrapped her legs around his head.
Haller testified that the officer punched her more than six times, but the judge found her testimony to be inconsistent and evasive.
"What means most to me at the end of the day here is that the judge, in his careful deliberation, chose to accept the evidence of constable Yung,” said Insp. Warren Brown, head of the Williams Lake RCMP detachment.
“And that tells me that the evidence provided by Const. Yung was truthful, and regardless of the decision, that would be my biggest concern."
Yung has been on desk-duty since the charges were laid.
Brown says it is too soon to say whether or not the RCMP will conduct an internal review, or if Yung will return to active duty in Williams Lake.
Const. Yung has been in trouble before.
In 2008, while providing security at an international summit in Banff, he was involved in a drunken telephone conversation with his ex-girlfriend when he fired his service gun into the ceiling of his hotel room.
Yung was later cited for disgraceful conduct and docked five days pay.
UPDATE: August 27, 2014
Jamie Haller has now filed a civil suit against the city and three RCMP officers, including one who was acquitted of an assault charge. See the report posted August 27 2014 in the Comments Section below.
Related Articles On This Blog:
Sexual harassment in the RCMP and the failure to catch a serial killer (page 1)
Sexual harassment in the RCMP and the failure to catch a serial killer (page 2)