A Fort Saskatchewan resident alleges a local RCMP officer physically and verbally assaulted her for no reason, leaving her with a concussion and a shoulder injury that requires surgery.
Jane Richards has filed a complaint with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, an independent agency that reviews complaints about on-duty officers, in relation to an incident she says occurred on July 14.
Richards, who is handicapped due to a prior brain injury and stroke, says it all started after she got in a verbal confrontation with one of her social workers from the Robin Hood Association (a support agency for handicapped people) over smoking a cigarette too close to James Mowat Elementary School while some of the clients were on a trip to a park near the school.
She went home, and she says not long after, two police officers arrived and used a pry bar to break into her apartment. She says one of her social workers called the police because they were concerned she would attempt to commit suicide.
Richards said the police forcefully entered her home, but she refused to let them cuff her.
“I kept insisting that they drive me to the Robinhood Centre to talk to my staff, which they did,” Richards said.
Her social workers advised Richards and the police that Richards needed to go to the hospital for a mental health check. She said the officers agreed.
At that time, one officer, whose name Richards could not confirm, left the scene, while the other, who she identified as Const. Huculak, agreed to escort her to the hospital.
But not before he allegedly drove her to a cul-de-sac and assaulted her, Richards says.
“He opened up my door and says get out of the car,” Richards said. “So I got out, face the car and the next thing I know I feel something hit the back of my head. And I kept feeling it hit my head.”
She said the constable hit her over her head with his baton four to six times. She said she did nothing to provoke the assault, was not resisting and did not threaten or verbally harass the officer.
“Friday morning I woke up with dizziness, light headedness, depth perception problems, it seemed like I was seeing words in triple,” Richards said.
She also claims Const. Huculak said “You’re just a fat bitch anyway” when she protested.
Dr. Amita Kumari of Ross Creek Medical Clinic provided documentation to Richards saying she had a mild concussion and right shoulder sprain on July 15.
Dr. Sara Constantine of FYidoctors said Richards reported wavy vision and that everything seemed like it was floating, but she could not “see any ocular pathology to explain her symptoms. Being repeatedly hit on the back of the head could have caused a concussion,” she said.
Richards said the officer did eventually take her to a hospital where a doctor confirmed she was in a suitable mental state to be sent home. But while there, she further alleges he was squeezing her shoulder so hard it left a bruise and that he dug his nails into her shoulder.
On Aug. 9, Dr. Kumari confirmed to The Record that Richards has right shoulder arthritis and tendinitis. The right shoulder arthritis is pre-existing from a prior complication. She has an appointment for surgery on her shoulder in September for the tendinitis.
The Record could not confirm that Richards’ injuries were related to any interaction with the RCMP.
Richards acknowledged she has a prior criminal conviction of assaulting a peace officer and believes that may have influenced how the RCMP allegedly treated her.
“The last time I was arrested there was a $5,000 bond put on me until I went to court. I was thinking with my past criminal record, they’re going to look at that and remand me in custody for however long until I have court,” she said.
But she is adamant that she did not do anything to provoke the alleged assault. She said she now has a fear of police.
“I just see it as a guy who thinks it’s okay to hit a disabled woman, and I think that’s wrong,” she said. “I think the cop was totally out of line.”
The Fort Saskatchewan RCMP would not confirm the constable’s full name, if there was an investigation open, or provide a file number for the initial suicide prevention file. Const. Huculak did not respond to requests for comment.
“If there’s an investigation ongoing obviously we can’t make a comment on that,” said Fort Saskatchewan RCMP Cpl. Jennifer Brown. “I’m not aware of a complaint that’s been made, so if there has been one made, it may not have made its way to us yet.”
The Robin Hood Association did not respond to a request for comment.
The Record is seeking further information related to the incident through an Access to Information and Privacy Online Request and hopes to provide more information when it is available.
~Originally published in the Fort Record