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

Fernie nonprofits face bout of vandalism and thefts

Three local nonprofits have been the victims of vandalism in just the past couple of months

Elk Valley RCMP respond to 421 calls for service in one month period

An attempted break-in in Fernie and an erractic driver were two of the calls from May 26 - June 26

Rotary Club launches Fernie wide scavenger hunt

The City Ramble Trail Scramble encourages participants to explore Fernie’s trails and streets

City of Fernie recycles old concrete

Hadean Aggregate Solutions was in Fernie for three days recycling old concrete and asphalt

MP Morrison pushes for accountability following federal fiscal update

Kootenay-Columbia parliamentarian says it is time to restart the economy

21 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in B.C. as virus ‘silently circulates’ in broader community

Health officials urge British Columbians to enjoy summer safely as surge continues

Tough time for tree fruits as some B.C. farm products soar

Province reports record 2019 sales, largely due to cannabis

‘Let’s all do a self-check’: Okanagan mayor reacts to racist vandalism targeting local family

Home of Indo-Canadian family in Summerland was targeted on evening of July 13

Province agrees to multimillion-dollar payout for alleged victims of Kelowna social worker

Robert Riley Saunders is accused of misappropriating funds of children — often Indigenous — in his care

B.C. businessman David Sidoo gets 3 months behind bars for college admissions scam

Sidoo was sentenced for hiring someone take the SATs in place of his two sons

PHOTOS: Inside a newly-listed $22M mega-mansion on ALR land in B.C.

The large home, located on ALR land, is one of the last new mansions to legally be built on ALR land

Thousands of dollars in stolen rice found in B.C. warehouse

Police raid seizes $75,000 in ‘commercial scale’ theft case

COVID-19 gives B.C. First Nation rare chance to examine tourism’s impact on grizzly bears

With 40 infrared cameras deployed in Kitasoo-Xai’Xais territory, research will help develop tourism plan with least impact on bears

NDP wants Lower Mainland MLA removed from BC Liberal caucus for alleged homophobia

BC Liberal leader, some MLAs apologize for Christian magazine ads but Laurie Throness doubles down

Most Read