Victim in RCMP excessive use of force investigation revises his story

A Yellowknife man who had ribs broken by a police officer while he was handcuffed in RCMP cells now says the external investigators tasked with probing the incident did, in fact, reach out to him.

Michael Cotchilly now admits he initially told CKLB that he did not speak with officers from the Edmonton Police Service (EPS), which is true, but he concedes he neglected to mention that they had tried to talk to him.

Cotchilly divulged the important information after CKLB shared with him Edmonton Police’s emailed version of events which stated that Cotchilly would not cooperate with their investigation.

Edmonton police last month cleared the Yellowknife officer of any wrongdoing after he knee-dropped Cotchilly while he was on his back in the cell in the summer of 2017, sending him to hospital.

“Why would I speak to them. I knew he would get off. I don’t trust the police. I don’t trust the police to investigate police. A frustrated Cotchilly said. “They don’t need to speak to me, the video tells the whole story.”

The closed circuit video from the cell was never played in court, but Cotchilly’s lawyer at the time, Jay Bran, has seen it and described the incident as an unnecessary and excessive use of force.

He too said he was not surprised that the officer was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Bran said he is always skeptical of the outcome when police investigate police.

It is unclear whether Edmonton officers viewed the video as part of their investigation.

Edmonton police confirmed for CKLB this week that two officers came to Yellowknife to conduct the investigation and tried, unsuccessfully to interview Cotchilly.

They are refusing however to release a copy of their report that clears the officer.

Yellowknife RCMP have also refused to release the report or comment on it.

They claim that it’s an Edmonton Police investigation and that all questions about it should be referred to them.

However, Mounties were quick to comment on the probe once their officer was cleared, calling it a “thorough investigation.”

This story comes amid calls from at least one MLA and two prominent defence lawyers, including Bran, who say it’s time to at least look into the idea of using a civilian agency to investigate alleged misconduct by RCMP in the territory.

CKLB will explore that angle in the coming days.

About the Author

John Mcfadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018.  John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL).

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