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

File photo
Main Roads warns of snow over weekend

It’s expected to snow in most areas covered by the East Kootenay Service Area

Tom Shypitka, Wayne Stetski, Kerri Wall and moderator Thomas Skelton at the Oct. 15 Elk Valley all-candidates forum. (Source: zoom)
At a glance: Kootenay East candidates go head-to-head in Elk Valley forum

Shypitka, Stetski and Wall called in to the zoom forum to talk all things Elk Valley

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons.
MP Morrison responds to federal throne speech, pushes for rapid testing at airports

Kootenay-Columbia parliamentarian criticizes throne speech, wants COIVD-19 testing at borders, airports

Anne Jimmie holds up a photo of her and her mother, Christine Jimmy, that was taken in 1948. Photo: Aaron Hemens
Saving the inner child: The Healing Journey

“There was this little girl inside that was so hurt, that was so wounded … I needed to nurture that little girl and understand her.”

Candidates running for Kootenay East participated in a Zoom debate hosted by the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday afternoon. Trevor Crawley photo.
Candidates debate economic issues during Cranbrook business forum

Topics focused on business and economic issues in forum hosted by Chamber of Commerce

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Invermere couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Employee Sophia Lovink shows off a bag of merchandise in Toronto on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Canada gets C-average grade on 2nd year of cannabis legalization

Cannabis Council of Canada releases report card on federal government and legalization

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. suburbs could see increased demand for rental units as people work from home

Vancouver’s average monthly rent is the highest out of 35 cities across Canada

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Fort St. John councillor Trevor Bolin (B.C. Conservative Party)
BC Conservatives leader fights back after BC Liberals leak 2018 workplace harassment case

Sexual harassment case was connected to employee being terminated, WorkSafeBC found

The BC Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay. (News Bulletin file photo)
‘Buy a boat,’ Horgan advises anti-maskers on BC Ferries

NDP leader John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

Jordan Naterer, 25, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. He planned a hike in the Manning Park area, and has not been seen since. Photo Facebook.
Family devastated as search for missing Manning Park hiker suspended

‘It was an extremely difficult meeting with the parents when we had to tell them.’

Most Read