RCMP investigate 'unfortunate' mistaken identity that led to handcuffing of teenage girl

RCMP investigate 'unfortunate' mistaken identity that led to handcuffing of teenage girl

RCMP in Surrey, B.C., are investigating how "a case of mistaken identity" prompted officers to handcuff and hold down a 16-year-old girl who was waiting at a bus stop.

Her parents, Ruth and Garry Auguste, have filed a formal public complaint and are demanding an apology.

CBC News has agreed to not use the name of the girl who was handcuffed, since she is a minor and her parents fear she will be harassed on social media. She told CBC she has had trouble sleeping and suffered from head and back pain since the incident.

Police had previously only confirmed they were investigating an incident had taken place, but now describe the girl's handcuffing as a case of mistaken identity, after officers went to the Newton bus loop last Friday looking for someone wanted on a Mental Health Act warrant.

They found "someone matching the description and apprehended a female at this location," according to a statement.

Officers approached the girl, who, according to an eyewitness and her own account, told them she was not "LaToya."

Bystander video shows two officers holding down the 16-year-old, who yells out profanities and asks the officers to check her identification card.

CBC News cannot confirm the events that led up to the incident, but the girl, and the person who took the video — Ash Hotti — say the teen was waiting for the bus. Hotti said a police officer came up close to her and kept asking questions about her identity. 

He said when the girl started backing away, the officers grabbed her, threw her on the ground and handcuffed her. ​

Not the right person

"Once it was learned that it was not the correct person, [she] was released immediately," the statement read.

Senior investigators are now in contact with the family, said Surrey RCMP.

"It is extremely unfortunate that this situation occurred and we are certainly mindful of her young age and how upsetting this was for her and her family," said Supt. Ed Boettcher in a statement.

"I can assure you we have resources dedicated to investigating this incident and we are gathering information to address all their concerns."

With files from Tina Lovgreen