Ottawa police exonerate Iqaluit RCMP member in cell block incident
“The member involved was acting within the scope of his duties”
A 16-month investigation by the Ottawa Police Services has cleared an Iqaluit RCMP member of using excessive force in a 2015 incident that made national headlines, Nunavut RCMP said June 22.
“The independent investigation in this case concluded that the member involved was acting within the scope of his duties and did not exceed the use of force necessary to control an aggressive and assaultive prisoner,” a June 22 news release from the Nunavut RCMP.
The reviewed incident occured Jan. 2, 2015 at the Iqaluit RCMP detachment.
Cell block video footage of the incident, published by Nunatsiaq News in February 2015, shows Eetooloo Ejetsiak, naked and intoxicated, in a confrontation with police while in a cell.
After police stripped Ejetsiak of his clothes, the footage shows three RCMP members backing out of Ejetsiak’s cell.
Ejetsiak walks towards the members, is pushed back by one member and then Ejetsiak, wobbling, tries to kick but misses the nearest member.
At that point the RCMP member closest to the prisoner winds up and punches Ejetsiak in the face with a hand that appears to be holding a taser gun.
Ejetsiak crumples to the floor in the fetal position while blood collects under his head.
“Police work is inherently challenging and police officers, while well trained, often have to make quick decisions based on the situations they are faced with,” the RCMP’s statement said.
Nunavut RCMP did not release any details of the investigation into the incident. In their three-paragraph statement, police referred to Ejetsiak’s specific incident in one sentence.
Ottawa police, by way of policy, do not comment on the findings of investigations done for other police agencies.
Another investigation done by OPS into similar allegations — involving Bernard Naulalik of Iqaluit — cleared a different Nunavut RCMP member in December 2015 of excessive force allegations.
The details of that investigation, which Naulalik told Nunatsiaq News he was “outraged” by, were also not made public.
A third incident, this one involving Michael Naglingniq and Iqaluit RCMP in 2013, resulted in a Nunavut judge dismissing criminal charges against Naglingniq.
Naglingniq alleged his basic rights were violated when Iqaluit police restrained him far longer than police policies allow, refused him medical treatment and destroyed video footage showing the abuse.
There has been no internal discipline of RCMP members in connection to any of the above incidents.
The Nunavut RCMP did not respond to interview requests by press time.