A woman injured during a police arrest in February expects answers from the Independent Investigations Office.
Cecelia Bigstone, 59, suffered a broken knee after a struggle with two RCMP officers on the corner of Eighth Avenue and Maitland Street on Feb. 15.
“A lot of other people don’t say anything when it comes to dealing with the law. Well I don’t believe that,” Bigstone said. “I have the right to speak up and I want them held accountable for what happened to me.”
According to Bigstone, she lost her temper that morning at the local Ministry of Social Development Office because she was unable to secure a mid-month cheque.
She left the office and was walking along Eighth Avenue heading home. Shortly after 10:45 a.m. she was pulled over by police.
Bigstone admits she’d been drinking alcohol, and wasn’t supposed to as part of a court order from a previous matter.
She said she gave police her name, and admitted she knew shouldn’t have been drinking.
Bigstone said she pushed away from the officers, then a struggle ensued that ended up with the three of them in a heap on the ground.
“My leg twisted when I went down and I screamed “My leg is broken, you broke my leg,” she said.
Bigstone said she was cuffed then lifted and placed in the back of the police car.
She was booked and then placed in a cell, she said.
The IIO reported that the BC Ambulance Service responded to a call at the police station and that a female was transported to West Coast General Hospital where she was treated.
BC Ambulance officials confirm that an ambulance transported Bigstone from the RCMP station to WCGH at 11:12 a.m.
Doctors at WCGH diagnosed Bigstone with a broken knee cap. She was transported to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital where she underwent major repair surgery.
A long staple marked scar runs from the top of her knee to her mid-shin. “I’ve got plates and screws holding my knee together now,” she said.
The IIO asserted its jurisdiction in the matter and started its investigation on Feb. 25. The IIO conducts investigations into police related incidents of death or serious harm to determine whether or not an officer may have committed an offence.
According to the IIO, police reported that Bigstone was in violation of a court order when she was arrested.
RCMP previously declined to comment on the matter, citing the investigation.
According to officials from Port Alberni Provincial Court, Bigstone is charged with two counts of assaulting a police officer and one count of obstruction relating to the incident.
Bigstone says she hasn’t spoken to a lawyer about what happened yet but will once she’s better able. “I want some answers about what happened, and I want someone held responsible,” she said.
The case is still under investigation therefore it can’t be commented on in any way, said IIO official Owen Court.
At the conclusion of the investigation, officials will either send a report to Crown counsel if they feel an officer has committed an offense, or make a public report if there was no offense committed.
The incident has attracted the attention of the Pivot Legal Society on the Lower Mainland, officials from which are anxious to talk to Bigstone.
“We are aware of this incident and we definitely have in interest in it,” said Pivot lawyer Doug King.
Pivot is a legal advocacy organization that represents and defends the marginalized and disenfranchised.
The group assists by helping access all the documents that a client has the right to, then analyzing them to see if they have a legal case or not, King said.