The Ontario Provincial Police, or OPP said a video that appears to show a police officer punching a woman repeatedly, kicking her and then tasering her twice while she is laying on the ground, “captures only a portion of the event.”
A nearly 90 second video of the incident in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, that was posted on social media on July 15 has been viewed tens of thousands of times.
Rachel Mamakwa, who is a councilor in Kasabonika Lake First Nation in northern Ontario, is the aunt of Jessica Mamakwa, who is the woman being hit by police in the video. Rachel posted the video to her social media.
When the video was first sent to her, Rachel Mamakwa says “I was just furious. I couldn’t believe what I saw.”
“The violence that my niece took is really troubling me,” says Rachel who is meeting with lawyers from Falconers LLP later this week.
“I feel like there was no reason to get kicked in the face with a boot and two tasers,” says Mamakwa who wonders why the officer didn’t just hold her niece down instead of punching her in the face.
The 23-year-old, Mamakwa of Kasabonika Lake First Nation has been charged with “Assault with Intent to Resist Arrest”.
According to the OPP, the incident happened around 1 am on July 10, when an OPP officer on routine patrol observed an individual trespassing through local properties. The officer detained the individual and observed them to be “highly intoxicated.”
The Sioux Lookout OPP acknowledged the existence of the video in a press release sent out on July 18.
The press release says, “the OPP is aware that a privately recorded video of the incident was made available to the public through social media, which has raised concern regarding police tactics used during this arrest.”
“This video captures only a portion of the event and shows the responding officer selecting the most appropriate use of force option to address the immediate situation, exposing the subject, public and officer to the lowest level of risk,” the press release goes on to say.
“While securing this individual for their own safety and officer’s safety, the accused became combative toward the officer, punching and grabbing at the use of force tools on the officer’s belt. When de-escalation tactics failed, a conducted energy weapon was deployed as a last resort to gain physical control of the individual and ensure public safety,” says the press release.
A spokesperson for the Ontario Special Investigations Unit, said in an email to APTN News that the SIU was not looking into the incident and said “the SIU’s investigative jurisdiction in cases of this nature is limited to circumstances where the affected person suffered a serious injury.”
When asked if the SIU had viewed the video, the spokesperson responded, “in Ontario, it is the responsibility of the police service report any incident that may fall under the SIU’s investigative jurisdiction. However, anyone else – be it a member of the public, a coroner, members of the media, a medical professional or a lawyer – may advise the SIU of a situation they believe may require investigation.”
Jessica Mamakwa has a court appearance in Sioux Lookout on August 8.
Rachel Mamakwa is hoping to hold a rally outside of the courthouse to show there are people who are concerned with this type of incident.