A 16-year old girl sitting on a bench in Sioux Lookout, Ont., was arrested after an Ontario Provincial Police officer claims she spit at him.
The incident, including a struggle where the officer is seen throwing the teen to the ground, was recorded by Dr. Debby Wilson Danard and her daughter.
They were driving past and stopped but the officer told them to move on.
They’re now wondering why the arrest happened the way it did.
“He just threw him down, face first into the cement,” Wilson Danard can be heard in the four-minute video posted to Facebook Tuesday.
Wilson Danard said she was driving around lost in the small northern Ontario town when she saw what looked like a young boy crying so she stopped and rolled down the window.
“The cop asked, ‘Can I help you?’ And I said, ‘We’re just stopping because it looks like he’s in distress.’”
They continued on but turned around out of concern. That’s when her daughter, sitting in the front passenger seat, started recording.
“There’s three more cops coming – he’s just a little boy!” Wilson Danard can be heard in the video.
“Two more!” she screams out as more officers arrive.
The ‘little boy’ turned out to be a 16-year old female, who police have now charged with three counts of assault, including assaulting a peace officer.
In a media release, police say the youth was highly intoxicated.
The Indigenous teen’s mother, who arrived near the end of the video, told APTN News she asked the police to help her daughter sober up.
But it wasn’t until she got home and saw the video online that she realized what happened.
“That’s when I finally seen how they handled my daughter. My heart broke,” she told APTN in a Facebook message.
In the video, the arresting officer tells Wilson Danard a mental health nurse just arrived on scene but she says that should have happened sooner.
“Where was the youth person, is what I want to know? Where was that mental health worker? Because when she was sitting on the bench crying, I’m pretty sure somebody could’ve been there then,” Wilson Danard said.
She said her own family, including her 11-year old daughter who was sitting in the back seat of the vehicle, was traumatized by what they saw.
They’re also concerned about the way they were questioned by police.
In the video, the arresting officer walks over to the vehicle and asks for their names, explaining he needs it for a warrant to get the phone, they’re in a motor vehicle, and witnesses to the youth spitting at and kicking him.
He also asks why they were recording him. When they say it was their right to record as members of the public, he wonders why they didn’t help him.
“Alright, well I would appreciate as also the public when I’m in distress – when I’m getting assaulted – that somebody help me, too, right?” the officer can be heard saying in the video.
Wilson Danard, who has a doctorate in social justice education, called his comments ridiculous.
“Only because you have the gun, you have the handcuffs, you’re like twice or three times bigger than this person. You don’t want me to help that person but you would like me to what, tackle this 95-pound person for you? Like, you lost control,” Wilson Danard told APTN.
A spokesperson for the OPP in Thunder Bay told APTN they are aware of the video but haven’t received any complaints about the officer or the arrest.
Wilson Danard said she reached out to the OPP’s Indigenous Bureau in Orillia about the incident and plans to contact community services for support.
“It must be that we had to see it so that people would be talking, because we have to have these conversations,” she said.
The teen was released from custody and taken to hospital to get checked out by her mother.