First Nation elder’s trial accusing B.C. Mountie of excessive force begins

Irene Joseph says run-in with Const. Darrin Meier in 2014 has left her with psychological damage

A First Nations elder described how a police officer knocked her over and stood on her ankle outside a clothing store in Smithers as a civil trial on possible excessive force began this week.

Irene Joseph of the Wet’suwet’en told a B.C. Supreme Court judge that she’d gone to Mark’s Work Wearhouse in Smithers on Dec. 4, 2014. She said ran into an acquaintance whose name she’d forgotten.

The acquaintance, a woman, had allegedly stolen items from the store.

Joseph bought a scarf and left. She said she was met outside by an RCMP officer she would later learn was Const. Darrin Meier, who asked her for the other woman’s name. Meier has denied all allegations.

READ MORE: B.C. government working with RCMP to address $10 million in budget cuts

Joseph said she told Meier she didn’t know her name, and that it was embarrassing being questioned right outside the store.

“I told him I wanted to go to the side of the store and he could talk to me there,” Joseph said. “But he was pushing me – asking me who she was and he just [wouldn’t] stop.”

Joseph, then 61 years old, said she tried to sit on her walker, which she uses because of an ankle injury, but Meier stopped her and began to rummage through her purse. He then tried to handcuff her, Joesph said, and she resisted.

“I wasn’t going to get cuffed for something I didn’t do.”

She said Meier’s feet knocked the front part of her leg and she fell to the ground head first. She said concealed her hands under her body to prevent from being handcuffed.

A struggle ensued, and the officer eventually stood on her ankle for what she estimated was 10 to 15 minutes but felt “like hours.” She said Meier felt like he weighed around 300 lbs. in full uniform.

After a period of time, another RCMP officer arrived. Meier released his hold, the two officers questioned her for a few more minutes, then left.

Joesph said the entire ordeal left her upset and confused. She is seeking general, aggravated, and punitive damages.

“I just walked back to my walker and sat down,” she said. “I just felt so dirty.”

Her lawyer, Ian Lawson, said the incident has caused her ongoing psychological stress, including fear of leaving the house she has lived in for 33 years.

The court was scheduled to hear Meier’s testimony on Friday.

In his response to Joseph’s initial claim in 2015, Meier argued he had reasonable grounds to believe she had shoplifted, after speaking to the store manager. However, his claim clearly stated she paid for her scarf.

He said she refused to speak to him multiple times, so he took her arm and told her she was under arrest for theft. When she resisted, he said he attempted a “foot sweep manoeuvre” and she dropped to the ground, and hid her hands.

“Const. Meier was required, justified and authorized to arrest and detain the plaintiff without warrant and to use as much force as necessary for that purpose,” his claim said.

READ MORE: Smithers RCMP officer being investigated over excessive force



trevor.hewitt@interior-news.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kootenay-Columbia MP urges end to ‘illegal roadblocks’ in solidarity with pipeline dispute

Rob Morrison says protestors across Canada need to remove roadblocks on roads, rail lines

Kimberley Fire Department urges residents to install carbon monoxide alarms

The Kimberley Fire Department has been issuing warnings on social media about… Continue reading

Steam room at Kimberley Aquatic Centre reopens

Room was closed for months for repair

Our Home video: a prophetic snapshot of Kimberley in 1984

Video narrated by Councillor McBain highlights the importance of transition from mining to tourism

Victoria’s Carmanah performs for Fisher Peak concert series

The Fisher Peak Winter Ale Concert Series presented an intimate night of… Continue reading

WATCH: The week in review

WATCH: Click the subhead to read the full story Two Kimberley residents… Continue reading

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

Adapting to love along the Columbia River

One man starts a GoFundme to help his partner with health costs caused on the trip where they met

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

B.C. massage therapist suspended following allegations of sexual misconduct

While suspended, Leonard Krekic is not entitled to practice as an RMT in B.C.

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Most Read