A video of an Indigenous man being arrested in La Loche, Sask., on Aug. 29 has sparked accusations of excessive force.
Family of the arrested man, 24-year-old Nicholas Janvier, said he sustained injuries requiring hospitalization during the arrest. They said officers should not have arrested Janvier so forcefully, as there were children inside the house when the arrest happened.
RCMP said in a statement that Janvier was wanted in relation to charges of breaching conditions, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer stemming from an incident on Aug. 22.
The video, which was originally posted on Facebook, shows five RCMP officers dragging Janvier to an unmarked truck. A woman can be heard yelling in the background. An officer who is speaking with the woman points at Janvier and yells that he is resisting arrest.
The officer then shows his weapon, which appears to be a less-lethal weapon of some kind, to the woman and explains what it is.
Randall Janvier, Nicholas’s cousin, said the two of them were inside the home, a retirement residence where his grandmother lives, when the arrest happened.
“The only thing I heard was something about kicking the door open,” Randall said.
“Next thing I know I just got terrified.”
Randall said that at the time, he was looking after his own two-year-old daughter and a few of his aunt’s children, one as young as 16 months.
“I told [the officers] ‘Hey you guys don’t do that, what are you trying to do? I got young ones in here with me,'” Randall said. “I didn’t notice the officer had a gun at the time, as soon as I saw the gun I just got scared.”
Randall said the officers asked him if they could enter the residence and he said yes.
“Next thing they just barged on in,” Randall said, “There’s officers already surrounding the house all holding guns.”
Randall said he told Nicholas to co-operate with the officers.
“He was doing exactly what I told him.”
Randall said police started using “excessive force” on his cousin, including grabbing Nicholas on his neck and “pressing on his throat.”
“He just picked him off of the floor,” Randall said. “That’s where I had to yell ‘Hey what are you guys doing?'”
RCMP said in a statement that the La Loche detachment got a report on Aug. 29 at approximately 7:20 p.m. CST that an adult male who was the subject of outstanding arrest warrants had returned to the village.
When officers arrived at the scene, Nicholas tried to escape out the back window of the home, RCMP said. Officers tried to handcuff him, but Nicholas resisted arrest and assaulted the officers, RCMP said.
“The officers increased their efforts to arrest the male and requested additional officers to assist with the arrest.” RCMP said.
The statement said Nicholas continued to struggle as they were leaving the house and officers had to lift him into the police vehicle.
Injuries and family concerns
Bonnie Janvier, Nicholas’s aunt and Randall’s mother, said her family member’s noticed an ambulance going towards the hospital with a police vehicle following it about a half an hour after the arrest.
“Sure enough we noticed it was our nephew, they dislocated his arm,” Bonnie said. “He’s full of bruises, scrapes.”
She said Nicholas also suffered from a broken rib during the arrest.
“The way [the RCMP] came here all armed, no that’s very unfit to go to an old folks home like that,” Bonnie said. “Especially when there’s little kids in here and scaring the living hell out of my granddaughter.”
Randall said the police all barged in with guns during the arrest, scaring the children who were present.
“They were just scared, they just started crying.” Randall said.
There has been an increased focus on police violence — and calls for the defunding of police — since the death in May of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed in Minneapolis when police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
The RCMP said it understands it is difficult for community members to see officers involved in incidents like this.
“There are instances when officers are required to use a variety of techniques to safely take an individual into custody.” RCMP said.
“The safety of all involved remains the priority during incidents like this.”
RCMP said three officers were injured during the arrest and that two of them have been treated in hospital and since released.
RCMP charged 24-year-old Nicholas Janvier of La Loche with assaulting peace officers and resisting arrest. He appeared in court this morning.