RCMP officer’s assault trial begins

Fellow officer testifies he saw Cpl. Ian Crowe drive arrested man’s head into the ground

The assault trial for RCMP Cpl. Ian Crowe started in Iqaluit Tuesday. He has pleaded not guilty. (File photo by David Venn)

By Emma Tranter

A Nunavut RCMP officer says he watched a fellow officer drive a man’s head into the ground during the arrest of a man in Sanirajak in 2020.

Cpl. Ian Crowe, who was Sanirajak’s detachment commander at the time, is charged with one count of assault stemming from that arrest on June 30, 2020.

Crowe has pleaded not guilty.

Crowe’s trial began in Iqaluit Tuesday with testimony from Const. Tyson Richard, who worked with Crowe in Sanirajak at the time.

“I’ve never seen another member treat somebody like that before,” Richard testified.

Richard said he and Crowe, who were the only RCMP officers working in Sanirajak, a Qikiqtaaluk region hamlet of fewer than 1,000 people, arrested a man at a house that morning for breaching his bail conditions. The man was also later charged with assaulting his partner.

The man was released later that afternoon on the condition he not return to his partner’s home or have any contact with her.

When Crowe and Richard went back to the woman’s house later that afternoon, though, the man was there.

The officers arrested him for breaching his conditions again.

“He didn’t want to go into the police truck,” Richard said of the suspect. “He didn’t want to be arrested. He asked us to let him go.”

Richard said that “after some struggle,” the man was put in the vehicle. At one point, he slipped his handcuffs in front of him and lit a cigarette. Richard said he tried to take the lighter from the man, but wasn’t able to.

Once at the detachment, Richard said the two officers, one on each side of the suspect, tried to walk him up the gravel ramp and inside.

“At some point … [he] ends up on the ground,” Richard said. “He’s on his knees with his hands in front of him.”

At that point, the man was still holding the lighter, Richard said, and Crowe yelled at him to hand it over, but he did not.

“At one point, Cpl. Crowe gets really angry and he grabs [the man] with both hands by the head and he just starts violently driving [his] head into the gravel several times,” Richard said.

Richard said Crowe did this two or three times.

Richard also testified the man yelled at Crowe to stop.

Crown lawyer Leo Lane then played three videos for the court showing the suspect, Crowe and Richard inside the detachment after the alleged incident.

The videos show him struggling with the officers. At one point, he is pinned against the wall, and at another point, Crowe drags him into a cell.

Richard said Crowe had worked at the detachment for about seven months before the incident occurred. Richard had been there for about three years.

Richard told the court he did not report the incident initially because Crowe was his supervisor.

He reported the incident to the RCMP 11 days later, after he and Crowe went fishing one Saturday.

Richard said he felt intimated after Crowe made a comment about him needing to return to town at a certain time. He then went home and reported the incident involving the suspect, he said.

Crowe was investigated shortly after and put on administrative duties.

The trial, being heard by Judge Susan Charlesworth without a jury, is to resume Wednesday morning with cross-examination by Robb Beeman, Crowe’s lawyer.

Beeman said Crowe denies the allegation that he drove the man’s head into the ground.


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