The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP is to investigate the actions of officers caught on camera dragging an elderly man down stairs in Coquitlam last week.
Video of the incident, revealed by Daily Hive, also showed RCMP manhandling an elderly woman, and prompted an outpouring of public criticism for the officers’ behaviour.
Richard Evans, CRCC Senior Director, said the commission received several complaints after the video was released, and decided it was in the public interest to investigate.
“Our role is to make findings and recommendations with respect to to policing practices,” Evans told Daily Hive.
“Was this an effective way of policing the situation? Were there better ways they could have handled this?”
The commission is an agency of the federal government, independent from the RCMP, aimed at increasing the accountability and civilian oversight of the RCMP.
Evans said its investigators would be speaking to witnesses to the incident and reviewing the video, before releasing a public report on the matter.
That report will include their findings and any recommendations for improvement the commission has, rather than recommend any potential criminal charges.
The disturbing video was filmed after a voting dispute at a strata meeting being held at the Best Western Hotel on Thursday night allegedly got out of hand.
Coquitlam RCMP Supt. Sean Maloney told Daily Hive police had been called to keep the peace, after “some parties in attendance were potentially fighting.”
When the strata meeting was ended, Maloney says, the elderly Korean couple refused to leave and were arrested by officers. It was this arrest that was caught on camera.
The video shows the man and woman on the landing of the stairs at the hotel, being told to “stop resisting,” by RCMP officers, as their granddaughter screams and cries at them.
An RCMP officer then seems to have dragged the elderly man down the stairs. Meanwhile, another officer is seen attempting to handcuff the elderly woman.
Her granddaughter can be heard screaming, “Don’t do that! That’s my grandmother!”
When Daily Hive broke the story of the controversial arrest, Coquitlam RCMP initiated an internal review of the officers’ actions captured in the video.
The following day, New Westminster Police announced they had now been tasked with carrying out an external investigation of the incident.
According to a release issued by NWPD, the Major Crime Unit will complete a thorough, impartial investigation of the case, speaking with those involved and examining the video.
“We’re aware of the sensitivity of this investigation,” said Media Relations Officer Acting Sgt. Jeff Scott.
“We’ll be providing a Korean-speaking police officer to speak with those involved, and any other care that we have available to ensure a fair and through investigation is completed.”
Speaking to Daily Hive after being shown the video for the first time, Maloney said he respected and understood the video may cause concern to the public.
“I want to acknowledge up front that the Coquitlam RCMP relies on the trust and cooperation of our community,” said Maloney. “Policing is and must be a partnership with the community.”
However, Victor Kim, who filmed the altercation, told Daily Hive he believes the situation could have been handled better by the Coquitlam RCMP.
“The police officers have no conscience. I respect what they do, but after last night, it makes me think.”
“If they can do that to an old couple, what else will they do to anybody?” adds Kim.
“I don’t think [the officers] were in danger from that couple. Maybe they were doing their job, but that was too much.”