A highly publicized drug-trafficking investigation in December involving a Yellowknife RCMP officer holding an innocent bystander at police gunpoint has come to a close.
But the RCMP’s detachment commander stands behind how his officer handled the situation, given the level of uncertainty and risk involved.
In December, CBC North reported that Mika Kondo, a 28-year-old resident was approached by a police officer with his duty pistol drawn on her as she sat in her car at around 7 p.m. on Dec. 3. The incident took place on 52 Street near the Mary Murphy Home.
Yellownife RCMP Insp. Alex Laporte recounted the incident on Monday during his monthly crime statistics report at city council’s government priorities committee.
He said RCMP acknowledged that the incident was “quite unsettling” for both Kondo and the officer. He added that the officer apologized to Kondo after realizing he got the wrong person.
“It is quite unsettling for a citizen to be exposed to this,” he said. “It is quite unsettling for a police officer to have to come to that resolution where they feel that the risk is so elevated that they need to use tools that they carry to protect themselves and by default have to protect the public.”
Laporte added, however, that his officer was acting in the context of a “highly fluid” situation where police were in the midst of trying to locate a violent drug dealer believed to be in the area.
Laporte told council that police had been investigating an apartment complex “outside downtown” where drug dealers had committed an act of violence against another drug dealer.
Police had information about the location of the perpetrator and an associated vehicle which happened to match the type that Kondo was driving.
As reported by Yellowknifer, Kondo, seated in her Honda Civic Coupe with her sister in the back seat, was suddenly approached by the RCMP officer who she said appeared undercover. He had the gun raised in one hand before producing a police badge in the other.
Laporte said he had faith his officer followed appropriate risk assessment by approaching the vehicle.
“We understand it is quite unsettling to have a contact with a police officer under these circumstances,” he said. “The officer on scene apologized before moving on the call.
Laporte said RCMP has attempted to reach out to Kondo and that an invite remains open for her to discuss the situation in further detail.
Laporte told council that the investigation of the case “concluded recently” and that three people were arrested.
City councillor Steve Payne commended the work that the RCMP does to protect the public. He encouraged them to “keep up the great work.”
“I don’t think the majority of people know what you guys go through on a daily basis and that you have to deal with the lowest of the low and very dangerous people,” he said. “I have no doubt the officer used whatever experience he had at that point to make the right decision.”
Payne said he was thankful for the RCMP service.
“I’m sure that it was not only the lady who got drawn on, but it must have been hard for him as well,” he said.
Yellowknifer provided follow-up questions to the RCMP on Monday. This story will be updated as more information comes forward.