Whitehorse woman alleges police brutality

Whitehorse resident and tent city founder Helen Hollywood says she has lost all respect for the police.

Whitehorse resident and tent city founder Helen Hollywood says she has lost all respect for the police.

Speaking by phone from her Vancouver hospital bed on Tuesday, the 57-year-old woman cried as she recounted her version of what happened outside her downtown apartment building on Jan. 31.

“I was in my place, I had a couple drinks, I went out to see what was going on, the cop wasn’t aware that I lived there. He assumed, I think, that I was homeless,” she said.

“He asked if I was drinking. I said yes, so he grabbed me right away. He pulled my arm out of my socket. So what if I was drinking? I’m old enough.

“And after he handcuffed me, he stepped on me…. That’s not right. What he did was so brutal. Nobody should act like that,” she said.

Whitehorse RCMP confirmed Tuesday that a 57-year-old woman complained an officer had used “improper force, resulting in an injury” during an incident on Jan. 31, but they would not confirm it was Hollywood.

And the police details of the incident on Jan. 31 are different from Hollywood’s.

In a news release, RCMP said they received a complaint that a person had been assaulted in the downtown area. It said a 57-year-old woman had been located and arrested because she was identified as the suspect.

Hollywood, who is best known for founding the makeshift “tent city” that grew up on the lawn of the Yukon government’s main administrative building last summer, was placed in the Thomas Dickson Apartments on Alexander Street, across from the Salvation Army, in mid-November.

But the constant traffic and the drug dealing she believed was taking place there, started to bother her, she said.

That’s why she went outside and behind the building last Tuesday, she said.

RCMP said after the woman was arrested, she was taken to the new lockup at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.

As she was being booked in, “It was determined the woman was suffering from an injury to her arm” and she was then taken to the hospital, the release said.

Whitehorse hospital spokesperson Val Pike confirmed that a patient by the name of Helen Hollywood was admitted on Jan. 31. She had a dislocated shoulder and was discharged to St. Paul’s Hospital for surgery on Feb. 5.

Hollywood claims her arm was ripped out and left hanging in the back.

“I’m in pain,” she said. “They have to do the operation twice. I have to come back in six weeks so they can work on the other side. Is this how people get handcuffed?”

The RCMP have asked an outside police agency to investigate the complaint. Once completed, the results will be sent to federal prosecutors to decide if charges are warranted. The investigation will also review the events to determine if an internal investigation into the officer’s conduct is necessary.

“I will have nothing to do with those cops anymore,” Hollywood said, claiming it took four days for her to get the name of the officer who arrested her.

The officer involved in the incident remains on duty, police said.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at