NNSL Photo/Graphic

Canadian North

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Yk man accuses Nunavut RCMP of abuse
Says he was wrongfully arrested at Iqaluit bar after questioning liquor enforcement raid

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Yellowknife man alleges he was wrongfully arrested in an Iqaluit bar after remarking on what he perceived as an excessive number of police officers raiding it.

NNSL photo/graphic

Robert Stewart alleges he was wrongfully arrested at the Kickin' Caribou Pub in Iqaluit on May 5 after remarking that he thought the number of police officers involved in a liquor enforcement raid at the pub was excessive. - photo courtesy of Terry Dobbin

Robert Stewart Jr. said he was arrested for public drunkenness and placed in the back of an RCMP vehicle after police overheard him remarking to his father on the number of officers raiding the Kickin' Caribou Pub in Iqaluit on May 5. He has later released without charges. He is seeking legal advice before filing formal complaints, but has sent a copy of his documentation to the Nunavut ombudsman.

Milos Micka, general manager of the Waters' Edge and Kickin' Caribou Lounge, said Stewart Jr. "wasn't intoxicated" that night.

Stewart Jr., who works as an auditor and was in Iqaluit on business, stated he was drinking beer with his father that evening when, what he described as six to eight RCMP officers, the fire marshal and liquor inspector entered the pub. Stewart Jr. stated he mentioned to his father, in what he described as a conversational tone, it seemed "like a bit of an overkill" to bring so many police officers to "raid a little bar" in Iqaluit.

One of the Mounties asked him to repeat what he had said after seemingly overhearing the comment so Stewart Jr. said he did. The RCMP officer then threatened to arrest him for public drunkenness, stated Stewart Jr., who said he told the police officer: "You can't. I am not drunk in public." Nevertheless, he said the RCMP officer arrested him, after allegedly shoving him against a wall for leverage while trying to put on the handcuffs, which were too small. The officer then searched him before putting him in the back of the RCMP vehicle in handcuffs.

While in the back seat in the police car, Stewart Jr. stated he was threatened with incarceration overnight if he did not co-operate and police tried to get him to agree he was drunk. He was eventually released. Stewart Jr. said the whole incident lasted about 15 minutes.

Still in the bar was Stewart Jr's father, Robert Stewart Sr., also a Yellowknife resident, who said he was "awestruck."

"The whole evening was a bit surreal," he said. "I just sat watching, witnessing what was happening in some amazement."

Stewart Sr. said the incident "blew his mind" and he agreed with his son that it was "overkill," adding he's never seen anything similar.

"My son, believer of free speech and the ability to sit in a pub and have a quiet drink, wasn't prepared to back down from this officer who was confrontational," he said. "The officer seem to decide to ... make an example of my son, and took him into custody. I didn't know what to do."

As for Micka, he said he received an initial report from the liquor inspector saying everything was OK but after Stewart Jr. was arrested, he received a second write-up 10 minutes later indicating that a patron was intoxicated. Micka then visited the chief liquor inspector the next day with both reports.

"I said, 'How come your inspector inspected everything and he saw everything was fine but all of a sudden, 10 minutes later, he wrote another report, saying one of our clients is intoxicated.'" he said.

Micka said the chief liquor inspector investigated and told him the alleged violation wasn't right and cancelled it.

The whole incident was a little strange, said Micka, and they were surprised about what had happened. He considers the matter closed as they were cleared with the chief liquor inspector.

"I think the RCMP was just trying to show the power. So it was completely completely false what they did to our client," said Micka.

The RCMP would not comment, nor would the chief liquor inspector.

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.