The phrase “personal relationship” has never sounded so sleazy. In 2011, according to police documents, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP, also known as the Mounties) took an intoxicated Native woman home from a police station, telling his fellow officers he intended to “pursue a personal relationship” with her.
The RCMP adjudication documents, obtained by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, tell a disturbing story. The woman was arrested at a party on Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, near Thompson, Manitoba, by RCMP Constable Kevin Theriault. She was drunk, and placed in a cell to sober up. Six hours later, Officer Theriault showed up at the station out of uniform, looking to have the woman released into his care.
The senior officer had reservations about granting the request, but ultimately told Theriault, “You arrested her, you can do whatever the fuck you want to do.”
Theriault drove off with the woman in his personal car, and a couple of officers decided to follow in a police cruiser to monitor the situation. They eventually informed the corporal of the detachment, who ordered Theriault to take the woman home, which he did.
The RCMP investigated the incident, and delivered its judgment in 2014. Officer Theriault was reprimanded and docked a week’s pay.
Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak was outraged, describing the incident to the CBC as “a gross abuse of power,” “appalling,” and “a horrendous breach of trust.”
The surreal story caught fire on Twitter yesterday. Metis/Cree Artist and activist Christi Belcourt wrote that “This case is not isolated. The RCMP have some serious internal work to do to address their own systemic racism & sexism within.” Artist Dawn Marie Marchand, Metis, said that “the world is not a safe place for us. The RCMP is another hierarchical patriarchal institution in a position of power; no surprises.” Terri Monture, Mohawk, who blogs and tweets as “Red Indian Girl,” wrote, “I think the RCMP has to be dismantled. This kind of #bullshit goes all the way to the top.”