Nunavut man hit by RCMP vehicle later allegedly severely beaten by cell mate
Kinngait man transported to hospital in Iqaluit
A Kinngait man’s ordeal was far from over after an arrest that saw him knocked to the ground with the door of an RCMP vehicle: after being placed into custody that evening, the man was beaten so severely by another inmate that he was flown to Iqaluit to be admitted to hospital.
The RCMP announced on Tuesday that an officer in Kinngait was under investigation after a video circulated online that appears to show the officer knocking a man down with the open door of his vehicle on Monday, June 1.
The RCMP officer in the video had been removed from the community and placed on administrative duties.
According to a bail document obtained by Nunatsiaq News, the victim in the video, who Nunatsiaq News has chosen not to name, was placed in a cell with another inmate that night because the cell block of the detachment was at capacity.
That inmate, who had been “extremely intoxicated and violent towards the arresting officers,” allegedly began beating the victim after he accidentally made contact with him while stumbling in the cell. The victim was intoxicated, according to RCMP.
The inmate is alleged to have punched and kicked the victim in the face and head, the document states. He continued the assault by kicking and stomping on the man while he lay “helpless” on the cell floor. He then put him in a choke hold.
Officers eventually entered what is described as a “blood-covered cell” and separated the two.
The victim, who is 22 years old, was “eventually removed from cells when sober.”
He was then transported to the Kinngait health centre and then medevaced to the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit.
None of the allegations against the man who allegedly beat the victim have been proven in court.
The Nunavut RCMP say that an external investigation will be held into the arrest of the man. But a news release issued by the RCMP on Tuesday made no mention of the incident in the cell or that the victim had been flown to Iqaluit for treatment.
Nunatsiaq News reached the victim on Wednesday during his stay at the Qikiqtani hospital in Iqaluit.
He said he didn’t remember anything “after I got hit by the police truck.”
“I remember before the police ran me over,” he said.
He also said he had seen the video of him being knocked down by the RCMP truck, which has been widely shared on social media.
He said watching the video was “painful” and made him feel “sad and depressed.”
“I want to find those police and charge them,” he said.
He said he had no memory of what happened in the cell that night.
“I heard I got beat up in a cell,” he said.
“I was vomiting after … when I vomit I taste blood. Dark red,” he said.
Nunatsiaq News has not confirmed the extent of his injuries.
The victim also said as of Wednesday he had stopped vomiting, and he was feeling “better.”
He had also been visited by a legal aid lawyer earlier in the day, according to Benson Cowan, chief executive officer of Legal Aid Nunavut.
The man who allegedly beat the victim was released on bail after a hearing on June 3.
Nunavut Legal Aid CEO calls for independent investigation
Cowan said the RCMP failed the victim in their obligation to ensure that anyone they arrest is kept safe.
“They are expected and they are obligated to take every step to ensure that someone in their custody is safe and secure,” Cowan said.
“It’s not like you can get up and leave…. You’re in their control.”
Cowan also questioned why that the RCMP did not include information about the incident in custody in the initial release.
“There needs to be an explanation in terms of … the flow of information internally.”
“I think it needs to be investigated.… I think it is shocking when we look at what happened from beginning to end in this case.”
Cowan also said the incident was an opportunity for the Government of Nunavut, the RCMP, the federal government and Nunavut communities to “begin a conversation about ensuring the quality of services delivered to communities by the RCMP is improved and changed and reflects what communities need.”
“The current situation is untenable. What we’ve seen here is something that occurs across the territory.… We’re only talking about this because someone happened to take a video of one piece of that evening.”
The Nunavut RCMP said in an email they will be releasing a statement on the incident later today.