Thursday, October 05, 2006

Another instance of police brutality in Winnipeg

by Tamara King

Winnipeg teen says cops roughed him up on the weekend because of his skin colour. The 16-year-old was a passenger in a car that was pulled over by a pair of police officers in the city's North End about 9:30 p. m. Sunday.

As he tried get out of the car, the teen says a cop swore at him and told him to get back in the car. The high school student then asked the officer to "say please." [Cheeky!]

"That's when he frowned at me and told me to get the f--- out of the vehicle. [Would he have treated a white passenger with such contempt? And violence?] He grabbed me by the sweater and elbowed me in the face and he threw me to the ground, and both officers were kneeing me constantly," the teen said at a news conference yesterday.

"There's no reason for this. The only possible thing I have in mind is racism. I did not provoke anything."

After the confrontation, the teen was arrested. He said he was held at the District 3 North End police station on Hartford Avenue until about 3 a. m. Monday.

He has been charged with [as if] assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest. The teen - who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act - denies the charges.

"Basically, I went completely limp, and they continued to beat on me," he said.

Winnipeg police spokeswoman Const. Jacqueline Chaput confirmed the allegations are being investigated by the Winnipeg police Professional Standards Unit - the unit that investigates its own officers.

At this point, the teen's claims are allegations and have not been proven in court. Lorraine Ducharme was driving the teen - who is a friend of her 16-year-old daughter - to his North End home.

Ducharme isn't sure why police pulled her over at Redwood Avenue and Salter Street in the first place, but said she received two tickets for seatbelt violations after her daughter's friend was loaded into the cruiser car. "It was just a reason after the fact. That's the way I saw it," Ducharme told the Sun yesterday. The teen's family says they're filing a complaint with the Law Enforcement Review Agency (LERA), the body that investigates complaints against police. As of yesterday, a complaint had not been filed, but a LERA spokeswoman said they are "familiar" with the allegations.

In a Sun interview yesterday, the teen's aunt produced a note from the teen's trip to the Misericordia's Urgent Care Centre. The teen said he suffered from internal bleeding in his ear, a mild concussion and a sore neck.

The teen is described as a young leader in the aboriginal and Metis communities. An army cadet who also plays hockey, the 16-year-old student sits on an aboriginal board aimed at tackling racism, his family says.

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