A Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer was disciplined with seven days of lost pay after he removed a drunk indigenous woman from jail and took her home to have a relationship with her.
The CBC reported on Thursday that the network had obtained RCMP adjudication documents indicating that “RCMP Const. Kevin Theriault took an intoxicated woman he had arrested out of a cell and drove her to his northern Manitoba home to pursue a personal relationship.”
The woman had been arrested by Theriault and another officer at a party in 2011, and was placed in a cell to sober up. Six hours later, Theriault returned out of uniform, and asked for the woman to be released into his custody.
Two other officers followed in a police cruiser as Theriault drove the woman to his home in her personal car.
According to the RCMP report, officers taunted him via text message to see “how far he would go” with the woman. One officer even “jokingly made a comment about having a threesome,” the report said.
One of Theriault’s colleagues noted that what was happening “wasn’t right.”
But even that officer eventually shrugged off the incident: “You arrested her, you can do whatever the f*ck you want to do.”
At some point later, Theriault’s corporal ordered him to take the woman back to her home. It was not clear from the CBC report what occurred between Theriault and the woman while they were alone.
Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak called the incident “a gross abuse of power.”
“They have to hold one another to standards of conduct,” Nepinak remarked. “We expect to be protected, just as every Canadian expects to be protected by a policing agency.”
He added that the seven-day loss of pay for Theriault was just a “slap on the wrist.”
Human Rights Watch researcher Meghan Rhoad told the CBC that it was not satisfactory for the RCMP to investigate its own employees for this type of misconduct.
“It seems to me that the standard is that there should be independent civilian investigation of these kinds of allegations,” Rhoad explained. “If communities can’t trust police to behave properly how can indigenous women and girls feel that these are people they can go to for protection?”