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RCMP say two Yellowknife officers assaulted woman in custody

A file photo of the RCMP detachment building in Yellowknife. Luisa Esteban/ Cabin Radio.
The RCMP detachment building in Yellowknife. Luisa Esteban/Cabin Radio

Police in Yellowknife say they have charged two of their own officers with assaulting a woman while she was being held in custody last fall. Both remain on active duty.

In a brief statement on Wednesday, RCMP said Cst Francessca Bechard and Cpl Jason Archer each face one count of assault relating to an incident that took place “while lodging a woman in cells” at the Yellowknife detachment on October 14, 2020.

While RCMP provided no further detail related to that incident, the date and description match an incident reported by the CBC in January this year. In that report, the CBC said Alberta officers were investigating their Yellowknife colleagues’ treatment of a Whatı̀ resident.

According to the broadcaster, the woman – arrested after she was said to have assaulted liquor store workers – was intoxicated at the time and remembered little of that night, but found bruises on her back, shoulders, and wrists after her release the following day.



“I knew I had been mistreated that night,” the broadcaster quoted her as saying.

The woman did not file a complaint, the CBC reported. In Wednesday’s news release, RCMP said the two officers were charged after a senior colleague reported their actions and the detachment’s officer in charge ordered a criminal investigation.

“Alberta RCMP, as an outside independent police agency, conducted and completed this investigation,” the news release stated. “The completed investigation was later sent to the independent Public Prosecution Service (Crown prosecution) for evaluation. The Crown has recommended charges.”

The charges against Bechard and Archer have not been proven in court. They are next due in Territorial Court on September 14, RCMP said, adding: “Both remain working in Yellowknife detachment.”

Archer was rebuked by a territorial court judge in a separate case earlier this year. In that instance, Judge Donovan Molloy criticized Archer and another officer for a lack of note-taking and unawareness of police policies.

Asked by Cabin Radio, RCMP refused to confirm whether the charges announced on Wednesday related to the incident reported by the CBC.