A Saskatchewan woman says she is scared for her life after she was brutally arrested by three RCMP officers after a trip to the local emergency room to get her two-year-old son’s arm examined at the end of December.
Emily Kammermayer, a member of Lac La Ronge Indian Band, is facing multiple criminal charges including assault with a weapon and assaulting a police officer, in what RCMP called a physical altercation between officers during her arrest at the La Ronge Health Centre on Dec. 29.
The 20-year-old woman said the RCMP officers tackled her to the ground, punched her repeatedly in the head and face and that one officer placed a knee on the back of her neck. Ms. Kammermayer said the officers then hog-tied her, carried her to a police vehicle and drove her to the detachment.
While in custody, she said, officers continued to violate her as she lay on the ground, still bound by her wrists and ankles behind her, telling her to hop like a bunny into the cell and laughing.
“I felt as if my limbs and neck were being torn apart,” she said. “It was worse than childbirth or surgery.”
She said she was eventually untied and allowed to speak to legal aid. Complaining of a headache and blurry vision, Ms. Kammermayer, who is also epileptic and being investigated for possible multiple sclerosis, was given Advil by paramedics.
When she was released that evening, Ms. Kammermayer said she travelled to a Prince Albert hospital more than 200 kilometres away where she was examined for a concussion and possible broken vertebrae.
RCMP said they responded to a complaint of an assault between a woman and physician at the La Ronge Health Centre around 1 p.m. on Dec. 29.
A communications officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority confirmed in a statement that staff members called RCMP regarding an incident on Dec. 29, citing there is zero tolerance for violence against patients, staff and physicians.
Ms. Kammermayer said she took her son Holden to the emergency department for an X-ray on the advice of her mother, a nurse. She said a doctor’s refusal to do an X-ray frustrated her and she yelled at him and slammed the door of the examination room. The door is alleged to have hit the physician, which she says led to the assault with a weapon charge against her.
Ms. Kammermayer said as she was gathering their belongings, she lunged to catch her son who was running and that’s when she was tackled by the RCMP officers.
Kim Beaudin, the national vice-chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which represents non-status and off-reserve status Indigenous and Métis groups, said what happened to Ms. Kammermayer is a case of systemic racism in health care and unprofessional conduct and police brutality.
“All because a mother, an Indigenous woman, was trying to get medical attention for her son,” Mr. Beaudin said. “It’s a classic move by the RCMP to overcharge and underprotect Indigenous peoples.”
Ms. Kammermayer said she filed an online public complaint with the RCMP’s Civilian Review and Complaints Commission against the three constables on Dec. 31. The RCMP confirmed its Professional Responsibility Unit is investigating the complaint and that the North District Management Team is also reviewing the incident.
NDP public safety critic Jack Harris said the report involving Ms. Kammermayer is “unfortunately consistent” with concerns that have been raised over the past six months during a study on systemic racism in policing. He called on Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to follow up with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki on the incident.
Mary-Liz Power, a spokesperson for Mr. Blair, said the allegations made by Ms. Kammermayer are deeply concerning. Ms. Power said the government has confidence in processes under way at the RCMP and in the courts to bring clarity to this situation and to advise whether any corrective action should be taken based on facts and evidence.
Mary-Ellen Turpel Lafond, the director of the University of British Columbia’s Residential School History and Dialogue Centre who reported on racism against Indigenous people in B.C.’s health care system in November, said that while she does not know the circumstances of the Saskatchewan case, it shows many of the attributes that she examined in hundreds of B.C. cases.
She noted the cases often reflected “racism, prejudice, bias and profiling.”
Senator Yvonne Boyer, a Métis lawyer who has studied systemic racism in health, also said that the allegations brought forward by Ms. Kammermayer do not surprise her.
“I hope that by coming forward there will be some more focus on eradicating systemic racism within the health care system.”
With a report from Patrick White
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