Yellowknife RCMP under internal investigation after alleged mistreatment of Whatı̀ woman

·3 min read

RCMP in Alberta are investigating Yellowknife RCMP officers and their role in an alleged incident that took place in cells in October 2020.

The incident in question revolves around the arrest of a 25-year-old Whatı̀ woman, Tracella Romie.

According to court documents, employees of a Yellowknife liquor store called RCMP on the evening of Oct. 14, 2020, after Romie reportedly assaulted workers there.

Romie was arrested a short while later and charged with two counts of assault and one count of mischief.

In an interview with CBC, Romie says she was put in the back of an RCMP vehicle by two officers and brought to the Yellowknife detachment, where two other officers also detained her.

Romie says she was intoxicated and remembers very little of that night. She says she does remember spitting up blood and officers pulling her handcuffed hands high in the air in a painful manner.

"I don't really remember much. I remember being in the cells for like 14 hours, maybe 16," Romie says.

She says after she was released from cells she went to a friend's house and found bruises on her back, shoulders and wrists.

"I knew I had been mistreated that night."

Kate Kyle/CBC
Kate Kyle/CBC

Use of force investigation

Romie says she thought about making a complaint against the RCMP, but ultimately changed her mind.

More than a month after the arrest, Romie says she received a call from two RCMP officers in Alberta who said they were investigating what happened that night.

Romie says the investigators told her that a Yellowknife officer who had witnessed her detainment in cells had made a complaint about their colleagues' excessive use of force.

Emails Romie provided to CBC show that two investigators from the RCMP's Maskwacis detachment in central Alberta flew to Yellowknife the first week of December to interview her.

I'm trying to stand up for those people that never really had a voice when they were mistreated. - Tracella Romie

Maskwacis RCMP deferred CBC's questions to the Yellowknife detachment. Yellowknife RCMP refused to say how the alleged incident came to their attention. They also refused to provide CBC News with an arrest report or video footage from the night in question.

"As this is an ongoing investigation, we will not be able to provide either of the items you requested, nor comment on how the incident that is part of the investigation was reported," N.W.T. RCMP spokesperson Marie York-Condon wrote in an email.

If indeed it was an RCMP officer who came forward, Romie says she's grateful to them.

"If it wasn't [for that officer] all of this investigation would not have been brought to attention," she said.

"I'm trying to stand up for those people that never really had a voice when they were mistreated."

Neither the Yellowknife or Maskwacis RCMP would comment on when the investigation is expected to be finished.

Romie is being represented by a lawyer with legal aid services in relation to the charges, which are still working their way through the courts.