The head of the RCMP says officers will be held accountable if it’s proven they bullied a woman into withdrawing a formal complaint after she was knocked unconscious at a northern Manitoba detachment in 2018.
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki told reporters on Thursday the entire incident will be “completely investigated and completely reviewed.”
“We need to look at that whole incident and see why that happened, and if there is something that the RCMP members have done,” she said after being asked about the incident by a Winnipeg Free Press reporter.
“If it is discovered that our members intimidated a person wanting to bring forward a complaint, we will deal with it — those people will be held to account. That is not acceptable.”
Lucki’s comments come after CBC reported on a security video from January 2018 that showed Genesta Garson, then 19 years old, being punched by a community safety officer at an RCMP detachment in Thompson, Man.
WATCH | Surveillance video from the RCMP detachment (WARNING: The video contains graphic and disturbing images):
One RCMP officer is seen in the video, along with two safety officers, as Garson removes a layer of clothing.
When she removes her belt, she throws it at one of the safety officers, who responds by punching her in the face. She hits the wall and is knocked unconscious.
The female RCMP officer is seen removing Garson’s pants, and the two safety officers drag her into a nearby cell.
Garson, with the help of her lawyer, Rohit Gupta, filed a complaint against the RCMP through the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP.
However, she told CBC that officers came to her house multiple times, and alleges they bullied her and pressured her to withdraw the complaint, which she did.
“After that, they left me alone. I do not remember how many times they came to the house. I lost count,” she said.
Gupta said he was surprised when he got a letter from RCMP officials saying Garson had withdrawn the complaint. The complaint form indicated that Gupta was the point of contact for RCMP — not Garson.
Following CBC’s reporting, the RCMP said it will review the training of the community safety officers and the actions of RCMP members.
Community safety officers are not RCMP members, but are employed by the City of Thompson. Neither of the two shown in the video are now working as officers.
“If there is something that the RCMP members have done, that aren’t in accordance with our core values, and our code of conduct … they will be held to account, because that kind of behaviour is unacceptable,” said Lucki.
She added there is “no wiggle room” when it comes to these situations because people need to trust the RCMP.
“We rely on people to come forward when something has happened to them, absolutely,” she said.
“So if it was discovered that, in fact, our members did that, they will be held to account.”