A Whitehorse man says he was unfairly detained overnight by the RCMP. He also says he is out of pocket several hundred dollars, thanks to police mistakenly believing that his snowmobile was stolen property.
It all started late in the evening of Aug. 10, when police pulled over Corey Markey for not having his headlights on.
Markey says he was using powerful new fog lights, which meant he didn’t need to have the headlights on.
The police officer at the scene was more curious about the snowmobile Markey had in the bed of his pickup truck.
He checked the machine’s serial number and radioed it in to check it against other machines that had been reported stolen.
Markey told the officer he’d just traded a boat for the snowmobile the week before.
What happened next took him off guard.
“He came back to the window, asked me to shut my vehicle off, get out and put my hands behind my back,” Markey said.
“He told me I was under arrest for possession of stolen property. They put the cuffs on me and put me in the back of the cop car.”
Markey pleaded with the officer, telling him he had a bill of sale at home and even offered to drive over there to prove it, but he says he was ignored.
Sitting in the back of the patrol car, he overheard someone on the police scanner mention it was a possibility his machine was one of three reported missing. Yet the model didn’t match, he said.
“They were looking for a Ski-Doo MXZ 600, but mine is a Ski-Doo Summit 700,” Markey said.
Another officer at the scene asked him if he’d been drinking that night, to which Markey replied yes.
He’d had a beer earlier in the evening, around supper time. He was slapped with a 24-hour suspension of his licence.
Markey volunteered to take a breathalyzer test but received no response from the officer.
He was brought to the detachment for processing and sent to the arrest processing unit of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, where he spent 11 hours.
An RCMP spokesperson said it’s better to be safe than sorry in these situations.
“When you look at the time of day, there’s no snow on the ground, it’s unusual to see someone driving around with a snowmobile in the back of their truck,” said Christine Grant, spokesperson for the Whitehorse detachment.
The lack of a perfect match wouldn’t necessarily clear him, she said.
“Sometimes the serial numbers have been tampered with. We always have to do our due diligence.”
Grant said she couldn’t speak to the breathalyzer side of the story, but knows there was “clearly enough there they (officers) felt a 24-hour suspension was needed.”
Markey said he was forthcoming with the officer about outstanding arrest warrants for him in Alberta.
Grant said she wasn’t in a position to comment on whether or not Markey was wanted back there.
Markey recently moved to Whitehorse with his girlfriend. He said he wasn’t given the opportunity to call his pregnant girlfriend and tell her where he was, which caused her significant grief that night.
When he got home the next day, he called the person he’d bought the snowmobile from and was assured it had never been stolen.
He went to pick up his impounded snowmobile but was met with a bill that was almost $400.
“We just moved here, we’re just starting to get our feet on the ground, and now this,” he said.
“I had to leave it there all week because I couldn’t pay that. When I finally went to pick it up it was about $255.”
Markey said he’s trying to find a way to be financially compensated.
“I don’t want to give up,” he added.
Grant said Markey has options if he’s unsatisfied with the way he was treated.
“He’s in his rights to contact the public complaints commission of the RCMP, that’s a process that’s available to him,” she said.
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