Jamie Haller's face after the assault.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have had a brutal time maintaining their goofily iconic brand over the last few years. And in British Columbia, the image has begun to look less like the wide thigh pants, red jacket, funny hat and horse, and more like black cargos, bulletproof vest, handgun on the coffee table, drunk angry ex-boyfriend.
Take Constable Andy Yung, who has unfortunately become the centre of another disturbing story that has extended the long history of abuse against Canada’s indigenous people. Why? Because he allegedly handcuffed and pulverized a young woman from Williams Lake.
On the receiving end of this beating was Jamie Haller. 17 at the time, Haller claims to have been running away from gang members when she called 911. Constable Yung responded to the call. Jamie hoped that he would be her protector.
Unluckily for Jamie, she was relying on an officer who, in 2008, while stationed in Banff, was off duty, ended up having a few too many, called his ex-girlfriend, became enraged, and fired his police issued sidearm through his hotel room ceiling. For this little slip up, Yung was disciplined for ‘disgraceful conduct’, and docked a whole five days pay. The executive director of The B.C. Civil Liberties Association David Eby told the CBC, after learning about this drunken gunfire fiasco, that:“If an officer has pled guilty to a criminal offence, we really should be asking whether or not they should remain police officers at all."
But of course Yung was not fired, and exactly what transpired between Yung and Haller’s initial contact that led to Haller having a swollen aubergine face is unclear. However, arriving on the scene where Haller seems to have gone from victim to villain in a matter of seconds, Martina Jeff, Haller’s mother, saw her on the ground in handcuffs. "I saw Jamie on the ground, crying… I got out and ran towards her. She was having a panic attack. She is very small and has never been in trouble with police before."
Once in the cruiser, Haller admits to kicking at the windows, but that seems like a natural reaction for any 17 year old who feels they’ve been cuffed and put in the back of a cop car for what she perceived as no good reason. Martina Jeff then heard Yung tell her daughter, “Keep kicking and you’ll see what happens…”
Haller kept kicking. So to subdue this wild child, who was “drunk and agitated and had wrapped her legs around his head,” Constable Yung decided to turn the tables, sit on her legs, and administer a sound pummelling force that his lawyer maintains, “was acceptable under the circumstances”and that, Haller’s memory and version of events “was clouded by the alcohol she had consumed.”
Sorry, but under what circumstance… ever… is it “acceptable” for a grown man to make a 17 year old girl’s face look like Jamie Haller’s did? It doesn’t matter if she morphed into the drunken, female version of GSP in the back of that cop car… how crazy must this guy be, that he had to repeatedly punch her in the face in order to protect himself?
Constable Yung’s assault trial wrapped up last Thursday, and the verdict has been delayed. The judge will announce a date for the verdict announcement sometime “next month.”
The way the B.C. courts, and the RCMP itself, choose to handle Constable Yung will say a lot about the state of affairs of policing in B.C. and it’s nasty public perception, particularly among women and the Native community. Given their history of tasering the mentally ill, failing at sheltering women from a serial killer, and being known for sexually harassing their own coworkers, things aren’t looking so great for the RCMP out west. With the media prominence and organization of the Idle No More movement, the Native Canadian community has never had so much political leverage, and any more screw ups similar to Yung and Haller, could worsen the RCMP’s, as well as provincial and federal government’s, already rocky relationship with native communities not only in B.C., but across Canada.
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