A Rama First Nation police officer is under investigation after sending emails to an APTN News journalist to express her displeasure at a story he wrote about her romantic partner being involved in an alleged assault on a Métis man in custody.
“I would love to send you into a cellblock and have someone punch you in the throat and the mouth, and see how you handle it,” Const. Dana Boldt wrote to Kenneth Jackson in an email.
In the emails, Boldt objects to Jackson’s story about several videos from 2022 showing events that took place in a detachment run by the Ontario Provincial Police in Bracebridge, Ont., 200 km north of Toronto.
In the videos which Jackson obtained through the courts her partner, Const. Scott Anthony, is seen pinning Ronnie Taylor to a chair and then a wall. Eventually, they wind up in a jail cell where Anthony is seen punching Taylor at least a dozen times.
Thirty seconds later, cameras in the jail show Taylor collapsing and appearing to have a seizure. The video is nearly 40 minutes long and no one comes to check on Taylor.
The lawyer representing Anthony fought against Jackson’s application to obtain the videos.
Taylor has intellectual disabilities stemming from injuries sustained as a child. He was arrested for an alleged domestic dispute.
“You conveniently mention in the title that Taylor is metis [sic], knowing full well that it will spark the idea in your readers that this is based on race when it 100% is not,” Boldt wrote after the story was published.
As an Indigenous news organization that focuses on the stories about Indigenous people, APTN does mention the Indigeneity of the individuals who we cover as a matter of course.
The email from Boldt goes on to say “Taylor definitely is not visibly Indigenous.”
“Thank you so much for painting police as villains and causing more distrust between Indigenous people and the police,” she wrote in an email to Jackson.
Jackson told this reporter he did see these comments as threatening and that led him to put in a complaint to the chief of police for Rama Police Services.
“There is no other way to take that but a threat… you can not like my story and call me names but I’ll respond when you threaten me because that crosses the line in my mind,” said Jackson.
The Rama Police Service has confirmed that they are launching an investigation.
The emails were brought to the attention of the Rama Police Services Board.
“As a chief of police, I expect professionalism from my members while on duty as well as off duty and any deterrence from that professionalism is a concern,” said police chief Jerel Swamp in an emailed statement to this reporter.
“Mr. Jackson’s complaint is being taken seriously and will be addressed,” he said.
The Rama Police Services Board chair Sheri Kay also provided a comment.
“We have directed the Police Chief to initiate an immediate investigation.
“Although this is an Officer of Rama Police Services, this communication and representation as a member of Rama Police Service was unknown to us and not endorsed.”
According to copies of emails sent to this reporter, Boldt corresponded with the programming side of APTN to object to the coverage.
In the email Boldt identifies herself as “an officer from the Rama First Nation Police Service,” and that she is “status Algonquin”.
“It’s unfortunate that the “rogue” police officer angle is the story that sells and not the story of the law breaking criminal who resists arrest,” said Boldt’s email to APTN’s programming side.
“I’m disappointed the APTN is even taking this on,” she wrote.
The email to APTN’s programming department goes on to say that “Scott and I have many mutual friends who are Indigenous. We can all assure you that Scott is the most respectful and least racist person that we know.”
This reporter reached out to Boldt to ask for comment about her emails.
This was her response.
“My initial email to Mr. Jackson was sent out of my concern about APTN painting Scott Anthony as a racist. As someone who had respect for an Indigenous centred [sic] media outlet, I did not want to see that happen and I wanted to provide an informed perspective on his true character.
“My email to Mr. Jackson regarding today’s article was not written from the position of me being an officer with the Rama Police Service; it was a personal opinion. As a member of the general public, I have a right to my opinion about an article that was posted on a public forum. It was not a threat; it was a ‘put yourself in the officer’s shoes’ comment. If APTN misconstrues that comment as a threat, it will only reinforce my opinion that reporters twist facts to sell a story and vilify police officers.”
Jackson’s article does not link Anthony’s actions to race-based discrimination.
“This isn’t a story about race. It’s about fact’s before the courts,” Jackson replied to one of Boldt’s emails.