Videos show events before B.C. RCMP arrest of elderly couple
Andy Macdonald, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Tuesday, November 1, 2016 11:04AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, November 1, 2016 5:13PM EDT
The RCMP officers called to the scene of a raucous condo meeting in Coquitlam, B.C. are under investigation for their actions in the arrest of an elderly couple.
Jarring cellphone video showing the elderly man dragged down a flight of stairs prompted not only an internal RCMP investigation, but also external investigations by an outside police force and a civilian review commission. Now, new footage obtained by CTV News and posted to YouTube shows the minutes leading up to the arrests.
The Silhouette condominium strata’s annual general meeting was held on Oct. 27 at a Best Western in the Vancouver suburb. Tempers boiled over and the meeting ended early over a dispute over ballots cast by condo owners.
YouTube users Victor Kim and Jee Grace, who attended the meeting, have posted several videos to the social media channel since the incident.
One video shows John Cartwright, the strata's property manager, announcing that the results of the election are still to be determined to a room full of agitated condo owners. He appears to have lost control over the crowd and yells over the din. He says that the results will be sent to a lawyer. This is met with shouts and protests from other people in the room.
Another video shows the room after it has emptied out significantly. Off-camera, Cartwright’s wife Alena Cartwright is heard saying, “The police are going to come. John, call the cops. 911! Tell the cops to come.”
The camera pans to an argument where, amongst a handful of rowdy members, the elderly man from the viral video, Myung Ju Lee, is being held back by a man in a black jacket. John Cartwright is heard saying, “It’s physical.”
Myung Ju breaks free and walks over to a group of people. He’s speaking loudly in Korean and pointing with folded papers in his hand.
“This is not a meeting, this is an altercation,” Cartwright says off-camera.
Myung Ju turns and walks away slowly with his granddaughter. The child is seen in the main video crying and screaming at the sight of her grandparents’ arrest.
“It was decided that no one was to touch the box,” Alena Cartwright told CTVNews.ca on Tuesday from Coquitlam.
She said the ballots were counted legally, but there was a large amount of proxy votes that caused a lot of concern among many of the condo-owners. She said the hotel security was called to remove the ballots and hold them for safe-keeping, but the elderly couple tried to grab the box.
“There was a lot of arguing and physical pushing. I haven’t been sleeping since that night. It got really, really ugly,” she said.
The RCMP said they received reports that the meeting was out of hand and responded to the scene. The meeting was stopped, but the elderly couple, Myung Ju, 78, and his wife Kap Su Lee, 80, allegedly refused to leave. At this point the couple was placed under arrest.
Alena Cartwright said that she tried to comfort the elderly couple’s granddaughter.
After giving a statement to police, the Cartwrights got into their car to leave the Best Western but were blocked in by six police cruisers. They say police told them not to go home and spent the night at the hotel.
New Westminster Police are investigating all aspects of the incident and determining whether the Mounties involved broke any laws.
The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) for the RCMP will be conducting a parallel investigation following more than a dozen complaints from the public and their own concerns around the content of the video.
"It's in the public interest for us to do an independent investigation into the conduct of those members that were observed on the videotape in Coquitlam,” said Richard Evans, senior director of the CRCC.
“Our investigation is designed to make findings and recommendations about that conduct to inform better policing practices and issues, like did they have the authority to arrest? Was the appropriate use of force used? Were the RCMP members there properly trained? Properly supervised? Was there a language issue? Just in a better sense, was there a better way the situation could've been handled?"
In B.C.’s strata housing, residents own their individual lots and together own common property and common assets as a corporation. Members vote on how funds are used. The Silhouette condominium complex consists of two towers with 500 units.
The council vote held on Oct. 27 remains undecided. The council is planning another meeting on Wednesday.
According to Alena Cartwright, there has been fighting at previous meetings, but “nothing quite like this.
“The police walked into something they were not prepared for. From the get-go it was a war,” she said.
“It’s not surprising because there’s such an enormous level of anxiety at so many of the meetings. I have been to many meetings where police have been called. I’ve been to a meeting where a gun was pulled on me, so you name it and it’s happened at meetings,” Tony Gioventu, executive director for the Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C., told CTV Vancouver
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Penny Daflos
YouTube video posted by Jee Grace: