Corporate media report
Residents rally to get officers fired
Posted By SUSAN GAMBLE, BRANTFORD EXPOSITOR STAFF [Ontario]
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tempers flared during a protest against police brutality outside the Six Nations police station Tuesday morning.
The family and supporters of a man who says he was beaten by native police officers exchanged sharp words with the family of one of the officers who is accused of the beating.
The family of Elgin Butler is demanding Six Nations police fire three officers who were involved in an altercation with Butler on Saturday.
A one point, police Chief Glenn Lickers came out to address and calm the crowd in Veterans Park, adjacent to the police station.
Butler has a bruised and battered face that was featured on several placards carried during the protest. One eye was almost swollen shut and blood red. Butler’s face was covered with small cuts and abrasions from when he said it was rubbed in gravel during his arrest.
The 40-year-old man said he and an officer exchanged words on Saturday. Then he said he was beaten by one constable, while two others held him down.
Butler’s mother says the community has had enough of such incidents.
“These cops are known for beating up people on the reserve,” April Butler said. “Everybody knows it and that’s why we’re asking for their badges. Eventually, they’re going to kill someone.”
April Butler said that about 100 people attended the protest Tuesday morning. A protest was also held on Monday and she said she hopes to continue the daily reminders to police each morning.
“We need to protest. There were other mothers here this morning whose sons have been beaten by these cops.”
Police said many of the Butlers’ supporters were from the Men’s Fire, a group that has also led land rights protests in Brantford and surrounding areas.
Elgin Butler runs a construction business, several variety stores and a car repair shop. He was on his sister’s Tuscarora Road property Saturday afternoon when officers wanted to remove some stolen vehicles they found in a bush lot behind the property.
Butler asked the police to delay the process until the land had dried since he said the trucks would damage the wet property. The removal of the cars did, in fact, leave deep ruts across the land, he said.
“They said no, they had to get them out now,” said Butler. “So I said I would exercise my hunting rights and go hunt on their property with my four-wheeler.”
Butler went to the home of Deputy Chief Rocki Smith who told him to wait for the next police commission meeting.
When Butler went back to the property, he said the three officers blocked him on the road, pulled him from his car and hit him.
“The constable grabbed me and said, ‘You threatened me and my family.’ And he punched me in the side of the head. The next thing I knew I was at the bottom of a ditch with a cop on either side of me and (one) on top of me.
He said the officer said he “didn’t care about his badge.”
Butler said he was handcuffed and taken to the police station.
According to a statement from Lickers, Butler was actively resisting arrest and that resulted in a physical altercation with the arresting officer.
Butler was charged with threatening and resisting arrest.
At the police station, Butler said asked to be taken to the hospital for medical attention and was denied.
Instead, he was held for a video bail hearing.
“When I saw him on the video in court,” said his mother, “I almost passed out.”
Butler has filed an official complaint with the Six Nations police commission.
Commission chair Wellington Staats, a former elected chief of Six Nations, met with the police chief Tuesday morning to discuss the issue.
“We’re not involved yet,” said Staats as he left the station. He said the situation hadn’t upset the community much.
In a news release, Lickers said the OPP will be asked to have its criminal investigations branch examine the arrest.
“The Six Nations police service will not be actively involved in conducting any part of this investigation,” the release said.
Lickers noted that no penalty or sanction will be considered against the officers until the investigation is complete.
“As it stands,” said the release, “there are basically two versions of what transpired. While both versions are similar in some aspects, there are also significant differences.”
Butler is angry about more than just his injuries and the fact that he’s been relieved of his gun licence — which he relies on for hunting game.
In October 2007, Butler’s teenaged son, Ryan (Punky) Butler, died during a police chase.
“My son was killed by the police in Welland and the (Special Investigations Unit) covered it up,” he said.
Police said at the time that the 15- year-old Butler was driving a stolen Hummer, which was pursued by Niagara Regional Police. During the chase, the Hummer came to the Welland Canal, where the bridge was up. When the car turned and sped along the canal, it didn’t make a sharp turn and crashed into a tree, killing the young Butler.
The officers were found not responsible for the teen’s death.
The Six Nations police service is no stranger to complaints.
“There are a lot of us unhappy with our police force,” said an older businesswoman in Ohsweken who asked not to be identified.
“They shouldn’t be working here because they’re all family. They should go to some other reserve and have those officers come here to work.”
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