The mother of a 10-year-old Kinngait boy and the RCMP have very different accounts about how the youth required five stitches to close facial wounds.
The mom says a police officer punched her child twice.
The police say the distraught boy repeatedly struck his own head against the enclosure in the backseat of an RCMP vehicle.
The incident began on Sept. 4 at approximately 6 p.m.
The mother, who Nunavut News is not identifying to protect the identity of her child, admits she was intoxicated and the RCMP came to pick her up to lodge her in a jail cell until she was sober. She says her son got angry at seeing his mom being taken away, and he broke the window of a police truck with a rock. When the mother saw the boy’s wounds the next day – three stitches above his right eye and two on the bridge of his nose – she asked what happened and he told her that a Mountie punched him.
“He didn’t sleep that night, he says from the headache,” the mother said, adding that her son is “scared of cops now.”
The mother doesn’t believe the RCMP’s version of events, that the boy inflicted his own injuries.
“No, he ain’t going to do that. He’s too young to do anything,” she said. “That’s crazy stuff … he would never hit himself that hard.”
Although she said she’s intimidated by police, the mother said she went to the RCMP detachment and confronted the officers, insisting that one of them hit her son.
“They turned all red, they all blushed. So I think they were all lying,” she said.
The boy’s mom initially said neighbours witnessed the police officer striking her son. When Nunavut News tried to arrange to speak to at least one neighbour, the mother later said it turns out only the boy’s brother saw the alleged assault occur.
‘At no time did the police strike the youth’
The RCMP say they responded to the scene that Sept. 4 evening after receiving a call about a man who suffered a stab wound to the head. Police determined a woman to be a suspect and she faces five charges, including assault with a weapon. The woman has two children, one of whom is the boy in question.
“Both of the (woman’s) children were acting out and had to be restrained at points by community members,” stated RCMP spokesman Cpl. Jamie Savikataaq.
It was actually the older brother, 13, who threw rocks and broke the RCMP pickup truck window, according to the Mounties.
The younger child was put in the backseat of an RCMP vehicle when he was “unable to calm down and after trying to assault police,” said Savikataaq.
The emotional boy repeatedly struck his head against the enclosure in the backseat of the RCMP vehicle, Savikataaq stated.
“One officer got into the backseat and applied a bandage and some pressure to his wounds. He was driven to the health centre by another officer while the first officer remained in the backseat helping to control the bleeding. At the health centre, the youth was treated and left in the care of social services,” Savikataaq said, adding that the boy was not formally arrested. “We were saddened to see the young boy harm himself and did everything we could to provide care, while trying to deal with a serious assault and a dynamic situation.”
Tensions in Kinngait
Kinngait has been the site of a couple of highly-scrutinized incidents between the RCMP and residents this year.
On Feb. 26, a Mountie shot and killed Attachie Ashoona inside a residence. Ottawa Police Service was called in to investigate.
An investigative report was completed in August, indicating that the officer’s conduct was within the law and no charges would be laid. The Nunavut RCMP later released details about the fatal confrontation, stating that Ashoona was armed with a knife, refused to drop it despite repeated orders from the officer and he was moving toward the Mountie while making stabbing motions.
On June 1, a different police officer was removed from the community, placed on administrative duties and was under investigation for his actions. A local citizen’s video that went viral showed the arresting officer using the door of his police pickup truck as a battering ram to knock over a highly-intoxicated man who was already staggering. During the arrest, which was assisted by four other officers, the suspect was kneed.
The RCMP have also detailed how jail cells in Kinngait were filled with intoxicated residents on the night of June 1. Mayor Timoon Toonoo expressed his concerns over abuse of alcohol in his community and spoke of the need for a rehabilitation centre.