May 3, 2017 8:44 pm
Updated: May 4, 2017 10:39 am

Surrey teen taken down by police in case of mistaken identity, says family

WATCH: A Surrey family is demanding answers and questioning the use of force by RCMP after their teenage daughter was mistakenly apprehended under the Mental Health Act. John Hua reports.


A Surrey family is demanding answers from police after a 16-year-old girl was taken down and handcuffed in what they say was a case of mistaken identity.

The girl was on her way to the mall, excited to accept her first job offer, when she said two Surrey RCMP officers approached her at the Newton bus loop and asked if her name was “Latoya.” When she said “no,” they allegedly threw her down on the ground and put her in handcuffs.

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“He told me I’m a ‘mental health person’ and I have to come with him. I kept telling him, I didn’t know what he was talking about and he said, ‘Yeah, you do,'” she told Global News.

“Out of fear, I started backing away from him, and that’s when he grabbed my arm and put me to the floor, and they were pinning me down.”

She said the officers didn’t ask for her identification to prove she was who they thought she was. She was ultimately released after police searched her purse and discovered her ID.

Surrey RCMP is now investigating the complaint, saying officers attended the bus loop on April 28 after receiving information about an individual who was wanted on a Mental Health Act warrant.

Police said the girl matched the description of their suspect, and there were concerns for her health, safety and well-being. They now call the case of mistaken identity “extremely unfortunate.”

“It is extremely unfortunate that this situation occurred and we are certainly mindful of her young age and how upsetting this was for her and her family,” said Supt. Ed Boettcher of the Surrey RCMP. “I can assure you that we have resources dedicated to investigating this incident and we are gathering information to address all their concerns.”

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The  family says the girl is traumatized by the event, and is still suffering head and back pain.

“I felt like I was on the floor forever, just crying,” she said.

She also added that she would have co-operated with the officers if they had explained why they approached her and had asked to see her ID.

“It’s been stressful. I’ve never been in a position like that before, so it’s hard to understand how to cope with that and move on properly.”

Her mom says what happened was “unbelievable.”

“It was really, really, a very hard thing to see my daughter crying after what happened to her,” she told Global News.

“I’m from Haiti. I came here for a better life to raise my children, hoping they would be safe to walk on the street without people pointing fingers and targeting them. For something like that to happen in Canada is unbelievable.”

Police say investigators have been in contact with the family. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502.

— With files from John Hua

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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