NNSL Photo/Graphic
Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size
Police brutality alleged
Witnesses say RCMP stopped Wrigley man for no reason in Fort Simpson

April Hudson
Northern News Services
Thursday, September 15, 2016

Friends and relatives of a Wrigley man are alleging police brutality after an arrest in Fort Simpson left the man with a black eye and a cut that required stitches.

NNSL photo/graphic

Daryl Sibbeston sustained these injuries after being arrested by a police officer in Fort Simpson. - photo courtesy of Darlene Sibbeston

The man, Daryl Sibbeston, also suffered abrasions to his nose.

RCMP spokesperson Marie York-Condon stated in an e-mail on Sept. 13 that senior management within the RCMP had been made aware of the incident and had started an internal review.

Eyewitness accounts say it was the tail end of the lunch hour on Sept. 9 when Const. Akira Currier stopped Daryl on the street between the Northern store and the recreation centre.

Witnesses agree Daryl was intoxicated at the time of arrest but said he hadn't been bothering anyone and was walking alone when he was stopped.

"(Currier) pushed him back against the police truck. (Daryl) went to go look back and moved his arm again, and then (Currier) . spun him around and used his leg to trip (Daryl) and push him onto the ground," said Josanne Tanche, who witnessed the arrest with her 10-year-old son.

"I saw (Daryl) fall and he fell so hard that his head bounced off the pavement. When (Daryl) hit the ground, there was blood all over."

After calming her son down and driving him to school at Bompas Elementary, Tanche returned to the scene and gave a statement to Acting Sgt. Mark Phillips, who had arrived on the scene by that point and was interviewing witnesses.

York-Condon said it would be "inappropriate" for members of the Fort Simpson detachment who responded to the call to speak directly to the media about what happened.

However, she added, "there is a Northwest Territories RCMP member attending Fort Simpson this week, who will take the time to stop in and speak with the family."

NNSL photo/graphic

Witnesses at the scene took photos of the arrest. - photo courtesy of Merle Snider

Mayor's brother involved

Daryl's sister, Darlene Sibbeston, is mayor of Fort Simpson and also works for the territorial Department of Justice.

Darlene said she was driving her nephew to school when she saw Currier stop Daryl. When she returned from dropping her nephew off, Daryl was already on the ground with a pool of blood under his head.

"When I saw this, I immediately sped up, parked the vehicle, got out and was like, 'What are you doing? He was doing absolutely nothing but walking down the road,' " she said, adding the officer told her to leave when she began questioning him.

"He was intoxicated but there are many times when other individuals are intoxicated. He wasn't bothering anybody."

Darlene said there were children and youth who witnessed the altercation as well. The fact it happened as the school lunch hour was wrapping up, at a busy time of day, is cause for concern.

"I just feel really infuriated, very upset about the situation because it's 10 to one on a Friday afternoon, there are children around, it's busy," she said.

She said she asked other bystanders to take pictures as evidence, and some did so despite the officer telling them not to.

Because the victim in question was her brother, she didn't want to speak in her role as mayor. Despite that, Darlene said she wants to see more training for officers who come to indigenous communities.

"To me, this was unnecessary force. They don't need to take that kind of force," she said.

Darlene waited until the ambulance came and lifted Daryl inside. At the health centre, she said he was given numerous stitches above his eye.

After his release from the health centre, Daryl went to the RCMP station. Darlene said he has since been charged with resisting arrest, although RCMP have not confirmed that.

Shortly after, Darlene posted a statement on social media asking for witnesses and people who have had altercations with Currier in the past to contact her.

That post resulted in some commenters calling the officer names, which she said she does not condone.

"Absolutely, that's uncalled for, but I can't stop people from the way they feel," she said. "Everybody now is at a heightened state. You're causing this huge scene in the middle of town and you're telling people to scatter and leave?"

Tanche said she laid a complaint online the same afternoon about what she had witnessed. She added that after giving her initial statement to RCMP, she felt they had already made their minds up Daryl had resisted arrest.

York-Condon stated that the RCMP have not received any formal complaints from members of the community, although she added it could take some time for the RCMP to be notified of complaints, depending on how residents choose to file.

"If anyone has chosen to go direct to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP . the process may take a few days before the RCMP are notified of any formal complaints," she wrote. "If this is the case, an investigator will be assigned to the file to follow through the complaint."

CBC has reported Daryl has previously been convicted of assault. Darlene confirmed Daryl has a criminal record but could not say what was on it.

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