Williams Lake RCMP arrest
A screen grab from a video shot of Williams Lake RCMP arresting a man.

Tsilhqot’in National Government calls on RCMP to suspend officers involved in arrest

Joe Alphonse, TNG Tribal Chair says Williams Lake RCMP need to end the violence against Indigenous Peoples.

Williams Lake RCMP is launching an internal review following a dramatic police chase on Sunday, Oct. 25.

A woman was coming home from north of Williams Lake when she came upon a police incident. Her Dad, who was driving, pulled over so they could record the arrest. 

In the video, which has been shared more than four thousand times, you see a man jump from a four door truck and take off on foot down a steep embankment. He crosses the road below, turns his back towards the police and kneels to the ground. Moments later the first RCMP officer is seen taking the man to the ground putting his body on top of the man being arrested. The second officer comes running seconds after and kicks the man two twice and then punches him four times. 

During the video, a woman is heard yelling to the police officers, “I am filming this! Hey stop that!” proceeded by long honks. She then yells again, “You are being filmed!”

As she drives away another woman from another vehicle asks, “Did you get that?” To which she replied, “I filmed that!” to the officer standing on the highway. 

The Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) released a press release condemning the actions of the RCMP. 

TNG is also calling on the RCMP to meet with them “to address this incident and ensure that it is getting the urgency and attention that it merits. This is not acceptable,” shares Tribal Vice-Chair Jimmy Lulua.

Pursuit from Kamloops to Williams Lake

In a statement by the RCMP Chief Superintendent, Warren Brown, who is the North District Commander, he shares that the pursuit started in Kamloops, B.C. 

The pursuit started just before nine in the morning on Sunday that stemmed from a phone call of an erratic driver on Highway 1, according to Brown. 

“The driver was allegedly crossing on double solid lines, unable to maintain it’s lane and traveling at variable speeds,” reads Brown’s statement.

It continues to explain that the Kamloops RCMP were not able to intercept so, “so information was broadcast to neighbouring jurisdictions to be on the lookout for the silver pick-up.”

“Queries on the truck showed that at recent stop in Kamloops, a person driving it had been found in possession of a loaded handgun,” his statement says.

The chase continued through Clinton B.C. north through 100 Mile B.C., continuing north through 150 Mile House, B.C. where an officer was almost struck by the vehicle, his statement says. No RCMP units were able to intercept safely. 

Just north of 150 Mile House the first spike belt was deployed. Once the truck, now driving on two rims in the front, was, “demobilized by another spike belt near White Road on Highway 97, in Williams Lake,” Brown writes. The pursuit ended with the man being arrested. 

The woman began to film the end of the pursuit where the man was arrested. 

The officer in charge of the Williams Lake RCMP has launched a code of conduct investigation, according to Brown. 

“Discussions are continuing with respect to what role an external agency may have in reviewing the use of force, and determining whether it was reasonable and necessary under the circumstances,” reads his statement. 

RCMP actions under fire

The Williams Lake RCMP have been investigated for five different situations by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) in regards to their conduct and violence against particularly Indigenous Peoples in the area.

They state in their letter to the Williams Lake RCMP that the BCCLA is deeply concerned that the, “Williams Lake RCMP move far too quickly to violence when dealing with Aboriginal men.” 

“Unfortunately, the threat of unwarranted, unnecessary violence from the RCMP

is a reality that Indigenous peoples live with every day,” says Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair of TNG in a press 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,” says Chief Alphonse.