B.C. man beaten at Kamloops nightclub claims RCMP ignored racial motives for attack
Was it a racially motivated attack or a pub brawl?
That’s the question dividing an Ashcroft man and the Kamloops RCMP — who are offering two very different versions of an assault outside a nightclub earlier this month.
Johnathan Hall, 27, was at the Duchess Night Club in Kamloops on July 6 when the incident happened around 3 a.m.
Hall, who is black, says the fight started when two white men began hurling racial slurs at him, including “darkie” and the N-word.
“They just started razzing me. There was no need for racial slurs. But at some point you have to defend yourself,” he said.
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Hall said his friend intervened, at which point things became violent. He said a man threw him to the ground and started kicking him in the head, while repeatedly using racist language.
“These guys are out for blood. They’re trying to kill me,” Hall told Global News.
When police arrived, Hall claims they tended to the other parties and left him sitting in the corner and bleeding. He said police also neglected to take photos of his injuries before he went to the hospital, despite him bringing it up.
Hall said the attack left him with stitches and permanent scars.
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“They didn’t take a statement. They said because it was at a bar and two people were involved they couldn’t take a statement,” Hall said.
“That sort of just let me know what they thought of the issue. They didn’t think it was a hate crime.”
The Kamloops RCMP tells a different story.
Spokesperson Cpl. Jodie Shelkie said when officers arrived, a fight between Hall and a 32-year-old man from Vernon had already broken up.
“When officers arrived, neither wanted police interaction, they had nothing to say to police,” Shelkie told Global News.
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“But from that point on there was evidence of an assault, so we proceeded with an assault investigation.”
She said neither party involved chose to file a complaint, but police were investigating anyway, and officers had spoken to witnesses and collected video evidence.
“When an officer goes in, they deal with a risk assessment to make sure the area is safe for the public and themselves, and from there they preserve evidence and gather evidence, And so in this case, according to the file,, that was done.”
Hall’s mother Carrie, a police officer in Jacksonville Fla., believes the RCMP’s response has not been serious enough.
“As a mother, it was heartbreaking. It’s 2019, and my son’s the victim of a hate crime,” she said.
“The suspects started it, and they were targeting my son. They were calling him n***.”
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Carrie Hall said police did not treat her son as a victim or explain what his rights should be as a victim, instead treating the event as a typical bar fight.
She said she sees it as an opportunity for the RCMP to improve training around hate crimes and racial sensitivity — noting that the responding officers were white.
That’s an assertion Shelkie pushed back against, saying that RCMP officers go through extensive and ongoing racial and cultural sensitivity training.
And she said the Halls are mistaken about how hate crimes are handled in Canada.
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“In this case we went to a file of an assault, so we’ll be investigating, gathering evidence, and if warranted giving all the information to the B.C. Prosecution Service who will determine charges,” she said.
“At that time, if charges do proceed — and depending on which party it is that is charged — if, in fact, there were the elements of the offence for hate crimes, then that could be used when sentencing comes down, if the person is found guilty.”
She said if Hall or others have additional evidence to suggest the attack was racially motivated, police will welcome it.
That’s not good enough for Carrie Hall, who said she wants to see the RCMP take a closer look at the case — and the way it handles potentially racially-motivated violence.
“If there was a lack of steps taken I’d hope superiors investigate their officers,” she said.
“No other victim should have to go through this. And I’m not going to take this sitting down. I need justice for my son.”
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.