Yellowknife police issued an unusually detailed account of an arrest on Friday, responding to allegations officers had assaulted a man and deleted video of the incident.
Patricia Lafferty told CBC News she had used a phone to film an officer slamming a patrol car door on the legs of her stepson, Tristan Rabesca. Lafferty alleges an officer then demanded to see, and subsequently deleted, the video.
Responding to that report, RCMP said Rabesca – who is 19 – resisted arrest, assaulted a police officer, and endangered officers’ safety during “a pursuit of the subject in freezing cold temperatures over rough terrain.”
Police directly contradicted Lafferty’s version of events as told to CBC. In a statement on Friday, RCMP said they had obtained Lafferty’s video recording with her permission.
Rabesca appeared in court on Thursday charged with both assaulting and obstructing an officer, alongside counts of failing to comply.
In their statement, RCMP said Rabesca attempted to flee on Wednesday evening after being told he faced arrest for breach of recognizance.
“During the ensuing pursuit, he continued to resist arrest and assaulted a police officer,” the statement read.
“During the incident, the RCMP officer deployed a conducted energy weapon, which was not effective. The officer requested assistance, and multiple members responded.
“The officer was able to bring Rabesca into custody. He received medical attention for minor injuries resulting from the flee from police and subsequent actions he is charged with. He was placed in cells.”
The CBC quotes Lafferty as saying a police officer threatened to arrest her, then grabbed the phone, before she said: “OK then, OK then, I’ll delete the video.”
By contrast, RCMP stated they “obtained a video recording made by a by-stander, with their permission, as evidence to support the judicial process. The cell phone was immediately returned to the owner.”
Lafferty acknowledged the phone had been returned, the CBC reported, though only “after her son pleaded for it back.”
Marie York-Condon – an RCMP spokesperson – claimed the incident, rather than being a case of police assaulting an individual, “highlights the challenges and dangers an RCMP officer can be subjected to in the course of their duties.”
In the RCMP statement, York-Condon added: “A simple arrest turned into a pursuit of the subject in freezing cold temperatures over rough terrain. The officer maintained control of a fluid situation and was able to bring the person into lawful custody and preserve the peace.
“We are thankful the officer only suffered exposure during this encounter and that no-one was seriously injured.”
Rabesca makes his next court appearance on December 11.