The Crown has stayed charges against two Yellowknife RCMP officers accused of using excessive force against a woman in their custody.
Prosecutor Greg Lyndon, on the third day of trial on Wednesday morning, stayed one charge of assault each against Cst Francessca Bechard and Cpl Jason Archer related to the arrest and detention of a woman at the Yellowknife detachment in October 2020.
He said he didn’t believe there was a reasonable likelihood of conviction.
Bechard’s lawyer, Robb Beeman, told Cabin Radio he believed that “seemed pretty obvious” from the evidence that had been presented at trial over the previous two days.
“It’s pretty clear that these police officers were acting in the execution of their duties and were acting reasonably with, unfortunately, a person who was highly intoxicated and violent,” he said.
Beeman said, in his view, the evidence showed the woman had made “sudden moves” on Bechard and she responded with reasonable force to protect herself and, ultimately, the woman in custody.
The court had heard testimony from other RCMP officers and viewed video footage of the woman being arrested at the Liquor Shop and transported to the detachment, where she was searched and placed in a cell.
Officers ‘relieved’ with outcome
Beeman said his client is “relieved” that court proceedings have been stayed.
“I would also say that she’s disappointed by the lack of support from her employer, the RCMP,” he continued. “She’s gone through a very difficult, difficult time. A young member doing her job, sort-of left to her own devices.”
Beeman added Bechard was thankful for the support of the National Police Federation, the union for RCMP members.
“My client’s also very relieved that a fair and just result occurred,” said Ryan Hira, lawyer for Archer. “He’s vindicated. It’s very clear that there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction, that he did nothing wrong.”
The CBC first reported in January 2021 that Alberta RCMP were investigating police in Yellowknife for alleged mistreatment of a woman in custody.
NWT RCMP announced in August that Bechard and Archer were being charged after Crown prosecutors reviewed that investigation. They said a senior officer at the Yellowknife detachment had reported the incident.