A woman who reported a stabbing to police earlier this month is criticizing her treatment by officers afterwards.
© Herald photo by Matt Gardner
Marge, a local resident who asked that her last name not be used for privacy reasons, has criticized her treatment by Prince Albert police after she reported an assault with a weapon on Sunday, March 2.
Marge, who asked that her last name not be used for privacy reasons, initially contacted the Prince Albert Police Service on Sunday, March 2 after coming across a shirtless male in the downtown area holding his parka tightly to his midsection while she was taking a late evening walk.
“I thought it was just a youth carrying his jacket, and then when he got closer I realized that he was in desperate need of medical care and needed to get out of the cold in the worst way,” she recalled.
Moving him into a nearby apartment building, Marge phoned 911 and the pair stayed inside until the arrival of police.
It was from that point that Marge -- who has had previous problems with police and security guards -- experienced what she considers questionable conduct by police, which started when officers asked her to wait in a police car where it would be warmer.
“When they put me in the back seat of the car I was rather upset, because that’s where you put prisoners,” Marge said. “The other officer had said he would bring my bag, which was never brought, and nobody came to talk to me in the police car.
“Then somebody finally got into the car and drove straight over to the police station, where I was ordered to take off my jacket, I was ordered to hand over my cellphone, I was told if I didn’t hand over my phone that they would consider me a suspect instead of a witness, I had various threats made at me, and then I was put in a jail cell,” she alleged.
After police took her phone, Marge sat in the jail cell until a member of the force arrived to update her on the status of the victim.
“An officer came and said that the guy was in surgery and he might not make it -- and if he didn’t make it, he was basically accusing me that it would be my fault because I was taking up his time when he should have been out working, which was very upsetting,” she alleged.
Marge remained in the cell for a while longer before police took a statement from her and she was released.
She described the fact that she had to wait inside the jail as “unfathomable” and argued that police never actually thought she was a suspect, but were rather using threats to get what they wanted -- in this case, for her to hand over her jacket and cellphone.
“I don’t think they ever at any time thought I was a suspect,” Marge said. “I can’t imagine it, because there was blood across the street and they said that that was the scene of the crime.
“Then after, they told me that I couldn’t have my bag because that was part of the scene of the crime, which it wasn’t. It was a secondary scene and there was blood coming to the building, so it didn’t make any sense what they were doing.”
Asked how police could have better handled the situation, Marge said that they should have treated her “like a human being, not like a criminal when they knew I wasn’t.”
When they put me in the back seat of the car I was rather upset, because that’s where you put prisoners. Marge
She added, “It would have been very nice to say, ‘Well, we need to talk to you, do you mind sitting in the police car?’ and then maybe after a while they came and said, ‘Well, we’re going to be a while yet, do you mind if we take you to a room at the police station and put you there?’ politely, and let you sit there and wait, instead of treating you like a criminal.”
On Wednesday, the Prince Albert Police Service released an official statement on Marge’s account of events during the night of the incident, confirming that she contacted police to report an assault with a weapon.
“Our investigation determined that a male had been stabbed and was transported to hospital for non-life threatening injuries,” the statement read.
“This file is still under investigation and no charges have been laid. (Marge) is not considered a suspect in the incident. She has since contacted the Service with concerns regarding her interaction with our officers and the matter is under review.”
Marge said this isn’t the first time she has experienced what she considers harassment by police.
Last winter, she alleges that an officer threatened to charge her with drunkenness and causing a disturbance for dragging an empty shopping cart over the bridge, despite the fact that she does not drink.
The incident made her afraid to leave her home thereafter.
“It bothered me for the longest time,” she said. “I didn’t even want to leave to go the library -- something I do every day.”
After her most recent encounter with police, Marge is no longer certain what she might do if she encountered a similar situation to that of the stabbing victim again.
Since the night of the incident, she says she has had several phone conversations with police and met in person with police Chief Troy Cooper.
Marge had nothing but praise for the chief, whom she said has listened closely to her concerns and is taking the issue very seriously.
“We have a good understanding and I know that he’s dealing with it,” she said.
The real problem, in her view, are some lower-ranking officers who might not always take directions from the top to heart.
“These guys, I don’t think they get the picture of what they’re doing,” she said.
“That’s why I want to have it out there in the public so then everybody knows … they’d better straighten out, because they just keep doing these things and there’s been so many different things that just make me sick.”