Lethbridge police probe Yukon RCMP complaint

Lethbridge investigators who are looking into a complaint that Whitehorse RCMP used excessive force while arresting a woman last month have wrapped up their Yukon interviews.

Lethbridge investigators who are looking into a complaint that Whitehorse RCMP used excessive force while arresting a woman last month have wrapped up their Yukon interviews.

The two Alberta investigators returned home Sunday after spending five days in the Whitehorse conducting interviews and gathering information.

“It looks like there was a complaint that was investigated by the RCMP in Whitehorse (on Jan. 31) at approximately 1900 hours, which subsequently led to the arrest and therein the allegation of excessive force, for which we are investigating,” said Lethbridge police Staff Sgt. Ian Sanderson in an interview Monday.

Helen Hollywood, a 57-year-old woman best known for founding Whitehorse’s tent city last summer, claims she was injured by a police officer on Jan. 31.

Whitehorse police will not confirm it was Hollywood who made the complaint, but the Whitehorse General Hospital confirmed Hollywood was admitted that day with a dislocated shoulder. She was discharged on Feb. 5 to St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver where she was sent for surgery.

The RCMP’s news release about the incident did say the woman’s injury was to her arm, but many other details differ from Hollywood’s account of what happened to her on the same day.

There is no set time line for the investigation to be completed, said Sanderson. But when it is, the findings will be passed on to federal prosecutors to decide if any other action, like pressing charges, will occur.

Calling in an outside police agency to conduct an independent investigation is now part of the Yukon RCMP’s policy if the allegation is serious and sensitive in nature.

It also respects a commitment made by the RCMP under the recent review of Yukon policing, RCMP said.

Shortly after the announcement of Lethbridge’s involvement last week, NDP justice critic Lois Moorcroft accused the government of failing to establish a crucial recommendation of the 2010 territorial policing review. 

The government promised Yukoners it would establish a Yukon Police Council by 2011, Moorcroft said in a news release.

“We’re still waiting,” she said.

“The Yukon government should act now to appoint members to the Yukon Police Council from the applications it has been sitting on since July 2011,” said Moorcroft.

“We want to see positive change in community relations with the police. The Yukon Police Council needs to be in place in order for this to occur.”

The Council of Yukon First Nations has reviewed applications and submitted three nominations for First Nation representatives to the council, but the Yukon government has not, the NDP release said.

The officer involved in the Jan. 31 incident is still on duty, RCMP confirmed.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com