Pubdate: Fri, 25 Sep 2015
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2015 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Geordon Omand
Page: 14


Mounties ransacked vehicle after threatening to have her children
seized, mother alleges

A First Nations woman from B.C.'s central coast is suing the province
after two Mounties allegedly threatened to seize her three young
children if she didn't let them search her vehicle for marijuana and
crack cocaine.

Kimberly Mack of Bella Coola is asking to be compensated $15,000 for
what she alleges was an illegal search that failed to turn up any drugs.

"When I meet up with the cops now I feel a lot of anger," Mack said in
an interview. "When I think they can get away with so much I feel
angry towards them.

"I would just like an apology. That's my main thing."

RCMP Cpl. William Wallace, Const. Nick Jenkins and B.C.'s attorney
general are named in the lawsuit.

A notice of civil claim states Mack was driving back to Bella Coola on
May 28, 2010, with friends and family from a potlatch in Vancouver,
when she parked outside a grocery store close to home for a washroom

Acting on an anonymous tip, police pulled alongside the vehicle and
asked Mack for permission to search her vehicle, the notice states.

"They said, 'Kim, if you do not let us search your van we will get the
(Ministry of Children and Family Development) involved. We'll get the
dogs to search your van if you're not going to help us,' " said Mack
in an interview. "I felt that I had to say yes to them."

The notice states the officers arrested Mack in front of her children
- - aged 8, 4 and 15 months - and searched the entire van, even tearing
off the vehicle's panelling.

"I was scared," she said of the public search. "I felt

Mack said she later lost customers from her home-based convenience
store and kept her eldest daughter out of school for a month, until
life returned to normal.

"I didn't even want to walk into the grocery store," she

The RCMP and the province's Ministry of Justice and Attorney General
said they couldn't comment because the case was before the court. The
ministry also referred questions to the federal Department of Justice
because the RCMP was involved in the case.

Doug King, a Pivot Legal Society lawyer, is representing Mack and her
co-plaintiff, Demi King. He said they made a conscious decision to try
the case in Bella Coola circuit court and not in a larger city, such
as Vancouver.

"The heart of the case is about small communities - especially
aboriginal communities - and how they're policed by the RCMP," he
said. "This is really a case about a family that was totally innocent
and had their life turned upside down."

The police allegedly didn't have a warrant, despite having ample time
to secure one, said King. Mack said she wasn't read her rights, either.

King said he hopes the case highlights the importance of legal
mechanisms that keep police accountable.

He said the biggest issue in the case was the officers' threat to
remove Mack's children, especially given the fraught history that
exists between the state and aboriginal communities.

"A threat to take away somebody's children is not a minor threat,"
said King. "Historically, it's something that's happened and is a real
part of people's lives in communities like this."

A date has not been set for the defendants to present their case, but
that stage is expected to take place in Vancouver.
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